Horry County Schools finalizes project list for five-year capital plan

Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County’s school district is moving forward with its plan to build new schools or renovate existing ones over the next five years.

The board for Horry County Schools finalized and unanimously approved its five-year capital plan at a meeting Monday night. The list remained unchanged from the one created during the board’s workshop in December, when board members ranked which projects should be given the highest priority.

The capital plan includes replacing the Horry County Education Center, also called “the alternative school,” as well as Whittemore Park Middle School. St. James, Myrtle Beach and Conway high schools will also get renovations or additions.

There are also projects expected for almost every school, like adding modular classrooms, traffic loop improvements, upgrades to athletics facilites and some called “sustainment projects.”

“Replacing roofs and HVAC systems countywide is an expensive endeavor, but it’s important that we handle those work orders swiftly because if you wait and delay, then those costs to repair are more expensive than dealing with it,” said HCS spokesperson Lisa Bourcier.

HCS board member Holly Heniford, who represents North Myrtle Beach, says those repairs need to be made, especially as HCS receives complaints from parents about mold in buildings like St. James Elementary School.

“What I want to make sure of is that all the children in our buildings in Horry County are taken care of,” said Heniford. “The problems that we are seeing recently, I want to prevent those from happening again. We live in a wet area. We’ve got a lot of flat roofs. We have a lot of storms.”

When the capital plan was drafted, it was expected to cost $750 million. That could change, since many projects don’t have budgets and the plan is funded on a so-called “pay as we go” option.

That option doesn’t raise taxes.

“We can begin the design and architectural planning, which will give us a better idea of the actual cost,” said Neil James, an HCS board member representing Green Sea Floyds and Loris.

James was the interim board chair when the December rankings were created. Current board chairman Ken Richardson attended that December workshop as an observer, but didn’t assume his new role until January.

A potential new elementary school in Carolina Forest is not included in the plan. HCS has an option to buy land for that school off Ronald McNair Boulevard by the end of the year.

Bourcier says the board would need to take separate action if it wanted to purchase that property.

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