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Preliminary designs should soon be available for the two Carolina Forest elementary schools expected to be under construction by next year.

“We hope to be shovel ready by January 2024, opening in 2025,” said Horry County Schools Director of Planning Joe Burch.

Horry County Board of Education members decided Monday night to defer voting on the available schematic designs from SMHa Architects due to questions surrounding the placement of playgrounds. Designers were asked to go back and move the playgrounds but some members didn’t want to vote until they saw the final product.

“As a board, for us to vote on something unseen I think that’s asking a bit much in my opinion,” said District 11 member Shanda Allen.

District 5’s Howard Barnard agreed, saying he’d rather wait the two weeks until the next meeting to vote on the design.

The board approved SMHa to provide design services back in September and finalized their contract in October.

A design committee was formed with district staffers from various departments, including learning services, facilities, maintenance, transportation, arts, media and library sciences, student services and technology. The group met four times to work on the floor and site plans.

Vice chairman Neil James reminded the board that they will be proposing two designs – one for 900 students and one for 1,200. Burch said that if the smaller square footage is chosen, it will not be a problem to change it later.

“We’ve designed that with that in mind," Burch said. "One section doesn’t get constructed if you go with the 900 version. It can easily be added on later down the road. All the core spaces you need will be there on site.”

The district purchased two sites last year for the Carolina Forest locations: one is about 35 acres near the intersection of Ronald McNair Boulevard and Christa McAuliffe Street, and the other is a 21-acre property at the corner of Stafford Drive and Carolina Forest Boulevard.

In other board news:

HCS Superintendent Rick Maxey congratulated the top five educators in the running for the Teacher of the Year honor, which will be awarded at a special ceremony in May. The top five teachers are Brennan Allen of Carolina Forest High School, Emma Lyn Cain of Pee Dee Elementary, James Ryan Carter of Scholars Academy, Meredith Chandler of North Myrtle Beach High School and Suzanne Troiani of Socastee High. 


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