New Horry County ‘alternative school’ design approved, costs $5 million more than expected

Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The new location of Horry County’s “alternative school” is moving forward.

The board for Horry County Schools approved $13 million last March for a new Horry County Education Center (HCEC), which is also called the “alternative school.”

HCS staff soon realized a bigger building would be needed to fit the different cycles of students there.

“In an alternative setting, the more opportunities we have to serve students in smaller settings, the better off that we will be in meeting their needs,” said HCS superintendent Dr. Rick Maxey.

The school board had two choices Monday night: a 48,500-square-foot building for $17.9 million or a 45,000-square-foot building for $16.7 million. Both buildings would have a kitchen, an indoor physical education space with a divider, a retention pond and room for expansion. The larger building would have 32 classrooms, while the smaller building would have 27.

The HCS board voted 7-3 in favor of the larger, more expensive option. The new school will be right next to the district’s offices off Four Mile Road in Conway.

Many board members say they prefer building now, before more space is needed.

“I don’t want to build a school that’s too small the day that we open it,” said Sherri Todd, a school board member representing Myrtle Beach and Carolina Forest. “With the growth that we have in Horry County, this school is going to be full.”

Board member Janice Morreale, who represents St. James and Socastee, agrees.

“You’re going to spend $1 million to put in (modular classrooms),” she said.

The board members who wanted the smaller school say they didn’t want to spend too much of the district’s savings.

“It’s certainly my desire to construct this facility,” said board vice chair John Poston, who represents Carolina Forest and Socastee. “I want to be fiscally conscious with it. We have a lot of other needs for this community beyond our alternative school.”

HCEC principal Jimmy McCullough was at Monday’s board meeting and says he thinks a new building will improve morale for teachers and students. He also says nicer technology and facilities will help kids return to their main schools and stay at them.

The new “alternative school” is expected to be completed in time to open for classes in Aug. 2021.

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