Horry County Board of Education takes on school overcrowding

The board of ed has been meeting about overcrowding since April. They met again Monday night. / Lindsey Theis

The Horry County Board of Education is moving forward with plans for attendance lines for the new River Oaks Elementary School Monday night.

The school is slated to open for the Fall 2012 school year.

The school board heard preliminary plans about a week ago for River Oaks Elementary School, which will serve Carolina Forest. The plan takes more than 100 Carolina Forest Elementary students from an area southwest of Highways 501 and 31. It also takes more than 450 students from Ocean Bay Elementary from an area bordered by Highway 31, Burcale Road, and the Intracoastal Waterway.

They will vote on the lines at an October 17th meeting.

The Horry County Board of Education has also been discussing possible plans for relieving overcrowding schools, including some of the schools in Carolina Forest.

NewsChannel 15 has been following this story since the school board began meeting on the rezoning in April.

About 15 percent of the schools in the district are above capacity. Some of those are in the Carolina Forest area, which has had a population boom over the past few years.

Board members say they are still considering several options to relieve the overcrowding. The latest, introduced at a retreat on October 3rd would be to reutilize Ocean Bay Middle school so it is not overcrowded and make program changes at Blackwater Middle to attract students.

An initial proposal suggested sending a majority of kids who complete Carolina Forest Elementary to Black Water Middle School instead of Ocean Bay Middle School starting in the 2012-2013 school year. That upset many members of the Carolina Forest Civic Association. They have been lobbying the board since this summer, and one member has created a Facebook group with more than 160 members.

Monday night, the board heard a proposed three prong approach from district officials.

The first prong consists of optimizing space at middle and high schools. They're calling the second prong utilization. it's basically things like adding new programs or activities, for example a 60 student orchestra, to attract students to attend the school. The third prong would be realigning students. That decision would come from a list of priorities the district would determine.

"You don't just change one attendance line without seeing effects, ripple effects through the whole district the general consensus is to not change any attendance lines if there's no need to," Board Vice Chair Joe DeFeo said.

The board is also expected to approve the three prong process at the October 17th meeting. That meeting will be held at district headquarters at 355 Four Mile Road in Conway. It begins at 6:00 p.m.