HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A groundbreaking for what will soon be the new Carolina Forest Middle School was held Wednesday morning but, as Horry County School Board Chairman Joe DeFeo pointed out, construction has already started.
"It's kind of exciting to see the first floor walls up, and the steel up on the second story," DeFeo said. "It will not be long before this building will be under roof."
The new school is set back off of Carolina Forest Boulevard. DeFeo said that, with construction being ahead of schedule, it can only help the construction of other schools.
"It will especially help with the Socastee Middle School, which, although we haven't closed on the property, we have full access to it or the builders have full access to it to build the access road and to start construction," he said. "And that's important. "That's the only school we had concerns."
The other school that posed an issue was the new Myrtle Beach Middle School. DeFeo said it's only because it used to be the Myrtle Beach Family Learning Center.
"Again, no fault of the builder, but we had to find a place to house the people that were in there," he said. "That has been done, by the way, with a lot of help from Horry Georgetown Tech, and I see that school being on time without any problems. The thing about that site is that it's an excellent site to work on."
Talking money, DeFeo said the five new schools cost $220 million, which is $54 million more than the original project budget. However, he added that $54 million was needed to go bigger and better.
Dr. Rick Maxey, superintendent for Horry County Schools, was also present for the groundbreaking ceremony. He said the district is returning to what he called, "The Growth Mode," with 800 to 900 new students expected this coming year.
With that, Maxey believed the larger schools will be a long-term fix for not only a growing population, but also a growing economy.
"Education drives an economy and in order to attract businesses to an area, one of the first things that they ask is, 'What kind of schools do you have?' And I think we can provide an answer that is an excellent one," Maxey said.
The five new schools are set to be done by May 1, 2017, barring any severe weather setbacks.