From Houston to Horry County: Big changes planned for schools

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Steering Committee has been looking at schools nationwide to help plan for the future layout they want to see in the county. Many of the ideas came from their trip to Houston, Texas. They met with the Horry County School Board to discuss plans Wednesday.

The committee pitched ideas ranging from natural light and solar tubes to carpeting and glass walls. They say they want to build an environment that makes children feel comfortable and eager to learn. They argue the architecture can make all the difference.

"Modern buildings provide lots of flexibility, lots of different ways to create and produce," says Principal Janice Christy from Myrtle Beach Middle School.

She went to Houston and says her trip left her feeling inspired. She says as a principal, she is used to coming into a building and making it work. She says she is responsible for getting each child to learn, this trip made her realize how different layouts can help increase learning.

The Steering Committee and the SHW Architect Group came together to show the board a PowerPoint presentation with pictures and layouts of what they saw in Houston. The Senior Planner from SHW led the discussion.

She says Horry County is trying to combine two ideas: "The best things for learning and the students, with the most affordable thing to do in the budget factor."

The board is trying to find a building model that matches their current curriculum. They ran into one problem. Superintendent Cindy Elsberry says the middle school model building is more complicated to plan, because 6th graders are much different than 8th graders.

"Managing those students as they come in and out of classrooms is something that becomes paramount  and you have to manage that carefully,"Elsberry says.

The board discussed staggering schedules to avoid different grades in the hallways together. They realize that their current middle school layout is not fully functional, and they say they need to be more modern.

Chairman Joe Defeo says as of now, there are no discussions that they will raise taxes. He says the good news is that they should be able to make the changes they need without breaking the budget.

The board hopes Thursday's meeting will bring sketches for both the middle and elementary schools. With those sketches, the board plans to make a decision by June or July.

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