Horry County Schools board narrows list for $750 million capital plan

Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County’s school board is narrowing down how it wants to spend more than $750 million on projects all over the district. 

After opening five new schools in the last few years, Horry County Schools looks to keep building. More than a dozen new schools or renovated buildings have been talked about for a five-year capital plan worth more than $750 million.

The school board will now try to choose which projects to do.

“I’d like us to continue to move quickly on our decisions because our buildings are just getting worse and worse in condition and we’ve got growth and other issues that we need to be repairing,” said Janice Morreale, a HCS board member representing areas around Surfside Beach and Garden City.

During a retreat Monday, board members selected projects they thought were the most important for HCS, which is expected to grow by more than 6,000 students in the next five years. They chose projects in five categories: capacity/growth, replace/renovate for condition, sustainment projects, athletics projects and grounds projects.

Modular classrooms were ranked as the top priority for student population growth, but the board also ranked renovations to St. James and Myrtle Beach high schools in the top three. For upgrades based on building conditions, building the Horry County Education Center, also called “the alternative school,” was ranked most important, followed by replacing Whittemore Park Middle School and renovating Conway High School.

The board also highly ranked replacements for HVAC systems and roofs, stadium upgrades and traffic improvements.

Here are the rankings in the other three categories:

Sustainment Projects

  1. HVAC replacements
  2. Roofing replacements
  3. Electrical/plumbing replacements

Athletics Projects

  1. High school track and field/stadium upgrades
  2. High school tennis court renovations
  3. High school baseball/softball upgrades (tied)
  4. High school practice fields (tied)

Grounds Projects

  1. Traffic relief/loop roads
  2. Elementary school play fields
  3. Parking lot upgrades

How to fund it all was also discussed.

Incoming board chair Ken Richardson says he’s trying to get the capital plan funded through a Hurricane Florence relief bill in Congress that would give South Carolina $2 billion.

“I’m not a fan of millage,” said HCS board chair-elect Richardson. “We made a promise to the people of Horry County when they gave us the penny sales tax that we wouldn’t raise it again. I’m hoping for the penny sales tax to pass again.”

The rankings created at Monday’s retreat are not a final decision on what’s in the capital plan, but a guideline for the board going forward.

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