Carolina Forest Sign

Carolina Forest is the largest attendance area in the district, Horry County Schools officials say.

The Horry County School District grew this year by 675 students, for a total enrollment of 43,602 students, according to Coordinator of Planning Joe Burch.

Burch gave the district's facilities committee updated numbers and projections tonight as to how much growth the district has seen this school year and how many modular classrooms might be needed to accommodate that growth next school year.

Most of that growth happened in the middle school grades, with an increase of 503 students in grades six through eight, he said. That could skew differently as the years go by, he said, as only a few years ago the majority of growth was happening in K-5.

Burch’s data shows that the fastest growing attendance area is Carolina Forest, and projections show over the next five years that Carolina Forest could hold almost 25% of the district's attendance population. 

According to Burch, the Carolina Forest area accounts for almost 22% of the total enrollment in the district.

Modular classrooms will be needed next year at Carolina Forest Elementary, Ocean Bay Elementary, and River Oaks Elementary, data showed. 

By 2025, Burch said, portables will also be needed at Waccamaw Elementary, Waterway Elementary, St. James Elementary, Carolina Forest High, St. James High, and Socastee High.

HCEC design and cost questions arise

Design discussions regarding the new $13 million Horry County Education Center building have slowed, while school board members have asked district staff to find some other cost-cutting measures.

The totals for construction on the project are creeping to $15 million, due to what facilities department officials say are issues with site work, cost per square-footage increases, and the question of whether or not to have a kitchen and a 3,000 square-foot standalone physical education facility at the new site.

The originally-proposed 40,000 square-foot building is slated to be built adjacent to the Horry County School District office building on Four Mile Road in Conway, replacing their current facility on S.C. 905 in Conway.

The first renderings included a full kitchen area, and a physical education gym, an area the facilities committee said was very important to HCEC Principal Jimmy McCullough.

Many facilities committee members felt that taking away the kitchen was not the route they wanted to take.

“I’m totally against not having a kitchen where children can have food. It wouldn’t be right not to have a kitchen,” said District 2 school board member Sherrie Todd.

Todd said the food would have to be prepared at Conway High School and it could be cold by the time it got to the Four Mile road location.

Facilities officials were able to fit four more classrooms into the design of the building without having the kitchen.

“I know teachers don’t like to float, but I’d rather float and have a cafeteria in my school rather than not have a cafeteria at all,” Todd said.

Mark Koll with the facilities department said that McCullough definitely felt that he wanted the physical education room for his kids to get their energy out, since they currently hold their PE class in a portable building. 

During discussion, school board vice chairman John Poston confirmed with Koll that there were no contingency funds built into the $13 million figure.

“We’re probably not staring at $15 (million) … without any fluff in it,” Poston said.

Koll and facilities department head Mark Wolfe said that the work to prepare the Four Mile Road site for construction was a large part of the cost.

“The other challenge we have in this particular building is the amount of site work relative to the amount of square footage of building,” Koll said.

Facilities committee member Chris Hardwick agreed with Todd.

“I don’t like concessions being made in regards to the kitchen,” Hardwick said. “Find money now to do project the way it needs to be done. This is going to service all of Horry County. I feel it’s paramount … [it’s just] forestalling issues we’re going to have down the road – find funds now, build the school that we need now.”

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