HCS votes unanimously in favor of new school designs

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Horry County School Board members may have approved the new school designs and they are eager to get started. However, they still have one major road block.

Design approval Monday night was a long time coming.

The board was hoping to choose final conceptual designs for their new schools months ago. The vote was delayed once more at the last board meeting and they've unanimously voted to move forward with this batch of designs, but not before firing off questions about the timeline.

Chairman Joe Defeo admits he was "running out of things to say" when people called and asked what was taking so long. Although he defends the process, he too is eager to break ground.

"They want the buildings built…we have the overcrowding issue. We've gained 2 to 3,000 students the past couple of years; that's a little unprecedented," Defeo said.

Although approved, there are still questions with the designs. One question is the type of flooring in some of the buildings. But the Coordinator of Design, Engineering and Sustainability, Mark Wolfe, feels the designs are still flexible enough at this point.

"Material selection is still, it's one of the things we can go later on and we can certainly fine tune that to make sure everybody's pleased with the result," Wolfe said.

Wolfe admits nothing can be done with the designs until they hire a new architect group to draw up the designs and present them to a contractor, and depending on how many architects submit for the project,it could be a long process.

"If we get an enormous response, it could take a while to go through all of the packages and the short list is done in an appropriate way," Wolfe said.

Wolfe says once the shortlist is done, the next round of architects will be chosen and assigned projects.

But Defeo says they have been looking at plots of land, and they've finalized a vote to buy in Carolina Forest. In addition, he hopes to use land they already own.

Defeo feels they can get cut time off by starting site work.

"That's three, four months of work that can be done while architects are finishing up the buildings," Defeo said.

Defeo says he would like to go with a local architect.

Wolfe explains that similar to the Steering Committee, an interviewing committee will be selected to go through architect applications.

He hopes to have the project posted by the end of this week.

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