The Horry County Board of Education on Monday unanimously approved the funding sources for the $58 million replacement of Whittemore Park Middle School.
“We’re looking about four years in the future,” Chief Financial Officer John Gardner said.
With the upcoming third installment of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, Horry County Schools is shifting projects that can be paid for with those federal dollars and moving the money previously budgeted for them into its building program.
“I love this plan," District 10 board member Neil James said. "We have used the [CARES Act] funds to offset some of the anticipated cost, which allows us to use our money to move on to our next phase of identified projects."
Horry County Schools received about $14 million in funding last year from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, as well as a second installment of $55 million, followed by an estimated $125.1 million slated to come soon.
The school district has until September 2024 to spend the last installment of these funds.
The monies the district has allocated in its budget for the next four years for personal device initiatives, sustainment and upkeep projects, and building modification and renovation can be paid for with CARES Act funds.
Between this school year and the end of 2024’s academic year, these funds plus a large portion of uncommitted sales tax revenues will be used to free up about $109 million for new buildings over the next four years.
James wants to move forward with getting the WPMS replacement project started as quickly as possible over the summer.
The school will be located on El Bethel Road in Conway. District officials hope it will open by the summer of 2024.
Director of Planning Joe Burch also reiterated that two new elementary schools are needed in Carolina Forest due to capacity issues.
A large part of the second and third installment of funds will go toward the replacement of outdoor air units in all facilities, as well as for upgrading other HVAC systems and replacing more roofs across the district.
Also included is the previously-reported addition of bipolar ionization units that will be installed in the supply ducts of all the recirculating HVAC units in the district to improve the air quality across the county.
Superintendent Rick Maxey said the installation of the air purification units has already begun, and removal of plexiglass for the 2021-2022 school year is already underway.
As for future new buildings, Burch said the price of materials will play a part in the timing of the projects.
“Some of this will be significantly impacted by pricing and the availability of contractors,” Burch said. “These two merging at the same time will create significant issues.”
Burch reminded the facilities and finance committees that with so many districts in the state getting federal money, it would mean that the bid market, the general contractor market and design market will be impacted.
“We just don’t know what it’s going to look like,” Burch said.
OTHER BOARD NEWS
In a recent survey sent to students and their families by HCS between June 7-11, 1,023 people responded to the questions about concerns over returning to school. Most surveyed said that failing grades or loss of class credit are what concerned them most about their students in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board unanimously approved a plan to address student academic losses on Monday night. Read more about that HERE.
New Burgess Elementary principal
Catherine Hampton, former assistant principal at Carolina Forest Elementary, will become the new principal at Burgess Elementary for the 2021-2022 school year.
New executive director for Student Affairs
Dena Chatfield will serve as the new executive director of student affairs. She formerly served as the director of student affairs and will be taking the place of retired executive director HT Lee.