Horry County Schools runs into budget issues

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF)- The Horry County School Board discovered their approved budget plan will not get them through building costs for the new middle schools.

The school board wants their new middle school models to account for future changes, but now they worry they wont be able to build a big enough school.

Dr. Rick Maxey, the Deputy Superintendent for Horry County Schools, explains this project has been in the works since the original budget was approved in September of 2013. But since then, building costs have dramatically changed.

Dr. Cindy Elsberry explains the board received the estimated cost for each middle school, and its much higher than they thought.

The approved and original budget is $29 million per school. But the estimated cost for each new middle school is $36,750,000.

The board has two options: increasing the budget or downsizing the model building. To stay within budget, they would be downsizing the school to 35,000 square feet.

"If we go with a certain size, there are going to be some spaces that won't be included. You know what's acceptable or discussing other financing options for the construction of the schools" says Dr. Maxey.

But with downsizing the middle school model comes issues.

Elsberry says expected growth has increased this year more than ever.

The Coordinator of Design, Engineering and Sustainability with Horry County Schools, Mark  Wolfe, says the middle school model can be more complicated.

"They have a lot more programs and things. There a little bit bigger of schools. We are designing for either 800 or 1,200. We currently don't have a 1,200 student middle school so that's one of the things we are working out the details on how to fit that many students into a school and do it efficiently."

The School Board wants the community to know they are working to find the perfect fit for not only what makes sense now, but also for long-term use.

Wolfe says they want a place "for students to work together as teams and have that kind of learning environment, because that's what they are going to face when they get out in the real world."

Wolfe says to look at this like your home budget. He says they can also keep budget if they break it down into materials and what they plan on using.

It's a matter of how many square feet and what you can afford to spend per square foot - there's obviously options you can do with materials and finishes."

Despite the question of budget. Horry County School leaders say they are still on track and they should have a model middle school building mock up by August.

On July 28, the board will meet to discuss this issue, what they are going to do, and what cuts they could potentially be making.

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