Horry County School Board votes on Ocean Bay overcrowding solution

Monday night, the Horry County School Board voted on what to do about the overcrowding at Ocean Bay Middle School, but decided not to go with either of their proposed solutions.

The board voted 11-0 to hold off on everything and focus on a long-term plan which could include building up to three new schools in Horry County.

The two options that had been on the table were to move some of the students to Blackwater Middle School or to shift all 6th graders to the three elementary schools in Carolina Forest.

The decision came after new enrollment projection numbers released at the meeting showed an estimated 5,900 students are expected to be added to the Horry County School system over the next few years.

Those numbers would put nine of Horry County's schools at full capacity with five years.

"Even if we did move students to Blackwater, Ocean Bay Middle is still projected to be overcrowded again in four to five years, so we wouldn't be solving any long-term problems," Joe DeFeo, Chairman of the Horry County School Board said.

This decision means that the district will be required to create a recommendation on what kinds of schools should be built and where they should be built.

"We don't owe anybody anything. We don't borrow money to operate because we have our own funds. So the reality is there. We can borrow up to 150 million dollars in addition to the 314 million dollars in tax revenue we'll have coming in over the next five to six years," DeFeo said.

DeFeo said Horry County School District has one of the better credit ratings when compared to other South Carolina schools, so getting the funds for these schools shouldn't be a problem.

"Keep in mind that we have other projects going on. so depending on how we work out the cash flow situation, and depending how quickly the schools are built. We can certainly build five schools at once but sometimes that makes the cost higher if you have to borrow too much money," DeFeo said.

Ultimately, DeFeo would like to see the first new school built within the next two years.

On average, a new middle school would cost between $30 and $35 million.