Horry County charter schools in financial trouble

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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Three charter schools in Horry County are having money troubles, according to the South Carolina Department of Education.

Now, Horry County Schools has put them on notice.

“Three charter schools are in what we call a little bit of a failure mode,” said HCS School Board Chairman Joe Defeo.

The Academy of Hope, Bridgewater Academy and the Palmetto Academy for Learning Motorsports are all on the state’s radar for not having enough money in their reserve funds.

“One of them is at a high level of failure; that’s Bridgewater Academy. They’re in a deficit; they’re supposed to actually have funds in the bank,” Defeo said. “The other two, they’re really close. They’re within $15,000 to $20,000 to being OK.”

According to state law passed last year, schools must keep a certain amount in their general reserve fund. Those funds are needed in case of unanticipated events or state revenue cuts.

“The plan will be to tell them to spend less money. How they do that is up to them,” said Defeo.

WMBF News reached out to all three schools but only heard back from the principal at the Academy of Hope, Dr. Melissa McClowd, who said the school was never notified about this law.

Defeo says it’s each charter school’s responsibility to keep up with new regulations and laws.

While Horry County Schools gives funding to the charter schools, they are not run by HCS.

“We do not have control of the charter schools. We let them do their thing, but when they fall out of bounds of what they’re supposed to do, that’s when we can intervene,” said Defeo.

Defeo says HCS will have those charter schools come up with an improvement plan to fix this issue.

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