District: Threats can be ‘identified quicker’ in new Horry County schools

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Horry County children start school on Wednesday morning and thousands of them will be in brand new, energy-positive buildings.

A main feature of the new schools is the amount of glass which gives the building an open feel.

“It’s very inviting,” said Superintendent, Dr. Rick Maxey.

In June, News13 asked the CEO of First Floor Architects, Robbie Ferris, how students will be kept safe in this type of school. At the time, the district and First Floor had not decided on a security plan.

“I think we have to rethink the way we think about school safety when we do buildings like this,” said Ferris.

News13 followed up with Ferris as well as the school district to find out what safety measures will be put in the new, glass-filled buildings.

“The building is designed around a basic principle that says if you want to eliminate bad things in the built environment you have to eliminate the places in which those things can occur,” said Ferris at a school tour in mid-August. He said security begins with the buildings’ entrance.

“There’s a single point entrance,” said Ferris. “People would come in the main door and after school starts, the doors into the school would be locked.”

Ferris also said the district is going to be installing a variety of safety measures throughout the building. However, district officials are not revealing the specifics.

“Each school does have a crisis management plan that is able to react to many different scenarios,” said Director of Facilities for the district, Mark Wolfe. “I assure you that each administrator has done a very good job of having their plan.”

Wolfe said he feels confident the open design of the buildings will help in the event of an emergency.

“We believe it gives a more active response to threats,” Wolfe added. “I think (the threat) can be identified quicker if there was one.”

Dr. Maxey said while they can’t reveal details, he wants parents to know the district is actively protecting students.

“We have security in place for all of our schools including our new schools,” he said. “Of course, one of the primary things to maintain security is to not discuss what you do. But we have measures in place and plans in place for these new schools.”

Earlier this summer, News13 reported on previously discussed safety measures, like bulletproof glass and fog cannons.