The Horry County School Board finally voted to officially adopt its priorities for a Five-Year Plan, but board members took the dollar figures out of the equation.
Board members expressed concern at spending a million dollars on design processes when as it stands, the district does not have the money on hand to begin any of the projects beyond adding modular classrooms and building the new Horry County Education Center.
“This is one of my main issues. We do need to embrace the building program and planning, but my biggest concern is we don’t have the revenue sources identified,” said District 6 member Helen Smith.
The board unanimously passed the priority list, but removed the cost figures from the vote since they will change in the coming years.
Smith said in January that she was concerned that the district would spend money on design, but the schools on the priority list might change in the next few years as revenue becomes available.
“I don’t want to spend $1.4 million on design and get down the road and have to say ‘We’re not going to do that’, and we could have used [that money] for other schools,” Smith said.
The board voted to use the “pay as you go” option in January to pay for projects, which does not involve a credit line or a tax increase, and would give the board $56.1 million to use for those projects.
The projects on the priority list include modular classrooms, which it has already been established will cost $15.8 million), a renovation/addition to St. James High School and an addition/renovation to Myrtle Beach High School.
The board also established that the new Horry County Education Center will cost $13 million, but funding hasn’t been set for replacing Whittemore Park Middle School or renovating Conway High School, the other priorities on the “Replace/Renovate for Condition” list.
Sustainment project priorities are HVAC replacements, roofing replacements, and electrical and plumbing upgrades.
“What I want is to make sure that all the children in our buildings in Horry County are taken care of. I want the problems we’ve seen recently, I want to prevent those from happening again,” said District 1 member Holly Heniford. “I want the kids to have the opportunity to be in a building that is safe and sound, and makes them feel good when they walk in the door.”
Facilities Director Mark Wolfe asked the board Monday for permission to enter negotiations with a professional design service for track and tennis court priorities, which are to upgrade high school tracks, fields and stadiums, and tennis court renovations across the district. Other items on the athletics projects list include updating practice fields and baseball/softball upgrades.
The top three grounds projects include updating traffic relief and loop roads, elementary school playing fields and upgrades and improvements to parking lots.
District 10 member Neil James insisted that getting design work done will help the board better define cost estimates.
“We do not have at this time enough money to really tackle any of the major renovations or building replacements. We do have some money we can begin design/architectural planning which will give us a better idea of actual costs,” James said.
Heniford wanted to be sure other schools’ issues weren’t forgotten.
“I want to be mindful that we have a lot of other schools that have a lot of needs,” Heniford said. “I don’t want something to happen because we didn’t pay attention to a certain building, and we end up in another situation like St. James Elementary.”
St. James Elementary is being re-tested again this week for mold issues after multiple cleanings and indoor air quality testing showed amplified mold spores still present in one of the classrooms. Results should be available early next week.
New principal appointment
Lora Tyler, current assistant principal at Forestbrook Elementary, has been named the new principal for Loris Elementary for the 2019-2020 school year. She will transfer to the new position on July 1.