Horry County Schools officials to discuss funding for new schools

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Horry County School District's latest effort to handle overcrowding issues could mean more schools are on the way. The school board will meet Wednesday at a specially-called meeting, since there's so much work that needs to be done, and soon. The first order of business will be to change the original building plan.

After delaying the overcrowding decision last month, the district has been looking for what areas need new schools. Staff reviewed all the buildings that are projected to be over capacity in the next five years, and have added at least two more middle schools to the "coming soon" list. This would be on top of the already-planned and approved three new schools and four building additions to elementary and middle schools across the district.

Normally the district bases its short-term facility plan for over the next seven years, but since there's so much to build, Horry County School Board Chair Joe Defeo says board members may not be able to look that far into the future.

The district's plan will be in "smaller chunks," explained Defeo. "It makes it easier to get done and it makes your projections work out a little better too."

This means some of the plans for new schools could be pushed back some years. It will all depend on what areas need those new schools the most.

The short-term building plan as it stands now totals up to $314 million. That price could change, since the latest overcrowding solution for areas like Carolina Forest is to build even more.

WMBF News asked Defeo if this means residents should expect a tax increase.

"I don't think anything comes completely off the table," said Defeo. "You still have to look at every option. The meeting is not about taxes, it's about how the options to pay for this building program."

The school board does have plenty of options. Some of them include taking out some of the money already in the bank, using the penny tax money coming in or the 10 mils property tax, or taking out a loan. WMBF News talked with taxpayers and they think this shouldn't just be a board decision.

"Well you can't just leave it up to a few individuals," exclaimed taxpayer Kim Bovino. "I think they need a task force. Maybe they need that because three or four schools is a lot."

District staff Wednesday will present the different funding scenarios for the board to look over. The meeting starts at 11:30 a.m. at the administration office.

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