Four members of the Socastee community expressed concern at Monday’s Horry County School Board meeting about student population growth, exterior athletic facility standards, and what they say is the need for more property at Socastee High School.
They are asking for: more space and land; to review the original, burned-out SHS building that is more than 55 years old; to review the safety of having part of the athletic facilities on the other side of a busy highway; to gain more parking spaces for school activities; and to improve spring sports facilities.
“The district’s Comprehensive Facilities Needs Plan has been discussed over the last couple of weeks, and staff has been instructed to rank capital improvement needs districtwide to include facilities and athletics to present at the next board meeting,” said Lisa Bourcier, Director of Strategic Communications and Community Engagement for Horry County Schools. “Socastee High School as well as all schools will be reviewed under this process.”
Helen Smith, of the Socastee community, spoke of the old Socastee High School building that burned in the late ‘70s and how worn out it is, but yet it still houses half of Forestbrook Middle students who are waiting for the new Socastee Middle School to be completed.
“Over the last 20 years, two additional attendance areas were added,” Smith said. “[There are] real and current problems at SHS that are still being forgotten and overlooked by our school district.”
Smith referenced recent athletics and grounds assessments presented to the board by Mark Wolfe, director of facilities for Horry County Schools, that show Loris High School as the number one poorest facilities in the county, followed closely by Socastee High at second poorest.
She says that there are high volumes of student growth in Carolina Forest, Socastee and St. James areas, yet Carolina Forest and St. James have far superior facilities.
“The SHS building is 35-years-old but still services the community well,” Smith said. “While we are proud of the academic successes of SHS, but updated facilities do make a difference.”
Recent Functional Capacity Estimates from the School Board’s five-year-plan show SHS at 107% capacity, with no option for modular buildings to alleviate overcrowding.
The report shows CFHS and SJHS are above average in their athletic facilities.
“It is discouraging when the two schools that were once a part of our community have better facilities than the students at our school, and SHS students deserve better,” said Christine Walker, Socastee High School Athletic Association president. “Socastee has 45 different teams representing 14 different types of sports, and a large band…with over 900 students on the rosters of the 14 teams.”
Shannon Murphy, a SHS alumni, parent, and member of the athletic association, said they are not asking for special treatment, but simply the necessities to provide proper facilities and tools students need to be productive students and fun-loving athletes doing what they do best.
“What can be done in an expedited, emergency phase to provide more land and funding for athletic facilities at SHS?” asked Richard Ward, a SHS alumni and Socastee resident.
“The land is available, and the funding is on hand to take care of the necessary improvements that will move SHS off the bottom of the list in almost every category,” Smith said.
The board will present their prioritized Capital Facilities Needs Plan at the October 9 meeting.