Horry County Schools approves budget increase for improvements to athletic facilities

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 7:57 PM EST
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - From new turf fields to tennis courts, Horry County Schools is preparing for its last phase of athletic improvement projects for schools.

The third phase includes upgrades to tennis courts at Loris High School, Myrtle Beach High School and North Myrtle Beach High School.

This project also entails track and track infields improvements at Conway High School and Socastee High School.

In addition, Socastee will also see the construction of new visitor grandstands at its stadium.

However, one of the more exciting additions to eight of the district’s high schools is the installation of synthetic turf fields.

But the project comes at a price - with some factors like material costs having the district take a second look at the budget numbers.

During a special board meeting Wednesday, the HCS Board of Education discussed some of the variances they’re experiencing with the budget for the project. HCS Planning Coordinator Joe Burch said the original cost for the work was estimated to be around $8 million.

“After our design fees were allocated, we had a remaining construction budget of $7,602,060. The construction pricing we received came in at a total of $8,199,440, resulting in a variance to fund the base bid of $597,380,” Burch said.

That nearly $600,000 represents the amount the board needed so work could move forward.

Burch says one of the reasons behind the increase is an uptick in material prices, stating many of the products they need have gone up nearly 30% or more over the last year.

He also says due to several issues they had with unsuitable soils at several sites, they needed to do additional Geotech investigations to make sure they were covered for any possible soil issues.

“Part of the increases in some of the allowances we put at several sites to cover these soil issues,” Burch said.

The board eventually passed the increase, with the money coming from funds the board already had in its savings coming in from under budget.

This now puts the school district in a position to get the projects rolling.

Coaches like Socastee High School head football coach Ben Hampton say these upgrades are much needed.

He adds that these changes are a big deal because they will give students more of a reason to take pride in their schools.

“If our kids can’t have pride in their facilities and what they’re wearing on their backs, how serious are we going to take athletics,” Hampton said. “From an appearance factor, everybody in Horry County is natural grass except for Myrtle Beach High who plays at Doug Shaw Stadium - and the turf is a little less maintenance. Especially down here in Horry County where the B teams play on your field as well. I think it is a great foot forward by Horry County as a school district.”

He also said these types of improvements are long overdue and he’s excited to one day see his athletes scoring touchdowns on a new synthetic turf field.

“It shows they’re supporting their student-athletes. I think it goes a long way for our future student-athletes at getting more kids involved. The more kids we can get involved in athletics, I think the more well-rounded we become. Hopefully, by the time next football season rolls around, we’ll have a new stadium and we can go out and represent Socastee well,” Hampton said.

Hampton said construction is expected to begin on Socastee’s campus sometime next week.

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