New details revealed on plans for new Horry County schools

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - There are new details on the plans for new schools in Horry County. There have been several meetings, and now ideas are taking shape.

After two days of discussions for hours, members of the design steering committee have already marked down what they liked after visiting schools in Texas and in Dillon County. For one of the changes, the committee wants to modify how security works at schools. They're discussing a security system that would lock down the school after hours, but would be able to partially lock in some areas of the school, so students can still do extracurricular activities in a secure environment.

Transparency is also still a big favorite, so in the new school designs, plan to see plenty of windows for natural lighting and glass walls with views of the hallways. Also discussed: centralized learning centers, which are spaces that can be transformed from a library, a media center, or an open space for blended learning.

All the talks aren't focused on brand new schools, but also new additions to schools. The plan would be to add on classrooms to already existing buildings to increase capacity.

The Horry County School Board will check up on the conversations Monday evening, to see if the district can and should go in this direction.

"What would you like, in order?" asked Horry County School Board Chair Joe Defeo. "Because we can't do everything. But we can do those things that are important to put the best school together."

The next step in this process is to see these plans come to life. Architects are working on renderings, so everyone will be able to see on paper how these concepts will fit in to your child's future learning environment.

But there are questions as far as how it will all fit into the budget. Horry County School Board chair Joe Defeo says to build a new school like this one today, it would cost around $20 million. So while there are discussions on how to build future schools here, there's also a focus on how to pay.

The School Board maintains the goal is to not raise your taxes. The buildings will be paid for through the one percent tax and current school taxes. Horry County has plans to build several schools, and make additions to four others, which can add up the total. To combat this, members on the design committee have discussed including cost-saving methods in some of the new school designs, like combining rooms and using natural lighting.

However, Defeo says they have to make sure cutting corners doesn't end up eventually costing more.

"Well you don't want to short-change the addition," said Defeo. "And at the same time, we cannot wake up the next morning or a year later and say, 'I can't believe we didn't add on another 50 foot. And now we need it.'"

The original date to have everything decided and done was June, but now that's been pushed back to August. August has to be the final date, because Defeo says the process to start building is still scheduled for next school year. The Horry County School Board will meet Monday night at 6 p.m. at the district administration building to take a closer look at these plans.

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