District gets new school boat for Sandy Island students - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

District gets new school boat for Sandy Island students

Source: Michael Walter Source: Michael Walter

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Georgetown County School District has received a new school bus boat to replace the boat that has been used ferry student on Sandy Island to school for over 50 years.

Ray White, Georgetown County School District Public Information Officer, says the new boat will be used on Thursday, August 20 and it will arrive in a gated community.

The dock at the Sandy Island Landing will have to be modified to fit the specifications of the boat, according to White. The GCSD is not releasing where the boat will arrive Thursday as a courtesy to the community that is allowing them to use their dock. 

The new boat was purchased by the state Department of Education and arrived on August 2, according to Ray White with the GCSD.

The county was not involved in the process of purchasing the boat, said Georgetown County spokeswoman Jackie Broach, adding that she did not know about the purchase until she read about it in a local newspaper.

However, the county has contacted the school district about the possibility of using the boat for other Sandy Island residents, but Broach said no decisions have been reached at this time. She said the county has no interest in purchasing the old boat.

“It seems a better option to us to work out an agreement for utilizing the new boat when it's not in use for transporting students,” Broach said. “In addition being safer and in better condition, it makes more sense from a financial and maintenance standpoint to operate one boat instead of two.”

Back in February, WMBF News reporter Conor McCue reported on discussions to replace the existing ferry, which had been running the same route for over 50 years.

“You know, after 40 years, just like our bodies we tend to wear down,” described Leonard Nelson, who rode the ferry when he was a child.

According to State Supervisor of Education Molly Spearman, “I am excited for the community that this new boat is now a reality. We are here to serve the parents and students and this is a great example of us working together to come up with a solution and show that the well-being of our students is always our number one priority.” 

The boat cost was $120,729 and the trailer for it was $3,860. The final Coast Guard approval is scheduled to take place on August 14. If the inspection is successful, then the boat will be ready when the school is scheduled to start.

The new boat is currently at Hazzard Marine in Georgetown, White said. School beings on August 20 for GCSD students.

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