Horry County takes the next step down the path to new schools

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Overcrowding in the halls of your kids school is an ongoing issue, which is why it's been on the agenda for the school board for quite some time. Monday night, the Horry County school board will continue the discussion on school expansion plans.

The board plans to approve the drawings and concepts for new schools to be added in the district.  Once that's done, the design process will go into full effect, meaning the architects will go into the finishing touches of the design.

There are seven projects on the agenda for design approval. Four of those, are brand new middle schools in St James, Myrtle Beach, Socastee and Carolina Forest. Horry County School board chair Joe Defeo is confident these middle school designs will get the nod.

The new middle school models are drawn out to be two story schools with the same building core. Two of the middle schools will have three wings, to fit up to 1,200 students, the other two schools will have the same format with one less wing, for 800 kids. This design allows the two wing middle schools to be expanded, if needed.

"When we get to a point to add a third wing, we can do that almost transparent to what's going on in the school so its being designed for the expandability, very easy expandability," said Defeo.

Horry County is growing rapidly and each year more students are added to the district. The goal in constructing the new buildings is have them fit that growing expansion.

While the building plan for Horry County Schools comes at a hefty cost of nearly $450 million dollars- we know plans can change.  One plan the school board hopes to keep the same is to not have to raise taxes.

"We're growing and we're growing very quickly and that puts a strain on the finances but as of right now the board has not taken any thoughts of a tax raise into account and we plan on doing it with the money we have," said Defeo.

If we break down the budget, on the four new middle schools here is what it would look like: Two schools would cost $31-million dollars, and the other two have a price tag of more than $36-million. Those costs will make room for up to 4,000 more students in the district.

Plus, a more than $7 million dollar approved expansion at North Myrtle Beach Middle. Other costs includes the complete rebuilding of Socastee Elementary, plus additions and renovations to other schools.

While there is no "set schedule" for construction, School Board Chair Joe Defeo, hopes they'll begin some work, the first quarter of next year.

Tonight we may get a look at the designs. The board meeting is at 6 p.m., Monday night, at the district office.

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