Horry County Schools could expand modular classrooms, accommodate hundreds of new students

Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 7:27 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - As more people move to Horry County, schools are feeling the strain.

The growth is forcing Horry County Schools to find solutions to make sure children have a place to learn.

Part of the district’s solution is to install modular classrooms for several schools.

As of now, HCS is using 88 modular classrooms and 10 restroom facilities on school campuses. Fifty of those current 88 modular classrooms are at elementary schools in the Carolina Forest area, which is currently seeing an influx of growth.

District spokesperson Lisa Bourcier says HCS is estimating about 588 new students when the new school year begins in the fall. She also said district leaders hope to add 36 modular classrooms and two restroom facilities on campuses.

Horry County School needs looking at ways to accommodate growth in the county, which includes...
Horry County School needs looking at ways to accommodate growth in the county, which includes adding more modular classrooms.(Lisa Bourcier, HS)

Bourcier said the district is exploring options to purchase or lease the modular classroom, with current costs on the table now ranging between $4-6.6 million.

She added that it’s important for the district to act now so students and teachers won’t feel any additional crowding strains in the new school year.

“You can’t turn students away,” Bourcier said. “We’re a public school system. So we have to accommodate them, whether we have space or not. But we are dedicated to doing the best we can to accommodate the new growth we’ve been experiencing over the last several years. It does take money but we are actively looking at funding this growth and being able to keep up with it.”

Bourcier said in addition to the portable classrooms, the district has been taking steps to prepare for additional growth in the county. She says those efforts, including building new and replacement schools a bit bigger as well as extending parent loop roads, will continue in the future.

“For example, the new Whittemore Park Middle School will have a capacity of 1,050 and currently, they have about 873 students,” she said. “Keep in mind this is a replacement school due to the age of the school and not for growth, but we still account for growth in this situation as well.”

Traffic congestion on the campus is an issue parents like Justin Yarbrough told WMBF News is a big problem at some schools.

He said the campus grounds are a bit tight, inside and outside the school, especially when trying to pick up his son in the lot of River Oaks Elementary School.

“I get over there, I’m usually a good 60-cars back,” Yarbrough said.

Yarbrough explained that he’s on board with measures to alleviate congestion and growth at the schools to ensure the learning environment is smoother for teachers and the kids.

That also includes beefing up portable classrooms on the campuses.

“A good step forward,” he said.

Bourcier says the district previously purchased land for two additional school sites in the future.

One property is located on Carolina Forest Boulevard across from Celebration Presbyterian Church and the Carolina Forest Recreation Center. The second site is on the corner of Ronald McNair Boulevard and Christa McAuliffe Street, across from St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church.

As far as the 36 modular classroom proposal itself, Bourcier says nothing is finalized just yet.

The district will discuss the proposal further during a March 14 board meeting.

HCS is estimating nearly 23 schools are looking to be near or at capacity for the next academic year, according to Bourcier.

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