Overcrowded, old Horry County schools get some help

On Monday, the Horry County School Board voted to move forward with their $314 million short-term building plan.

The plan includes putting additions on and replacing existing schools, as well as building new schools.

As of Monday night, there are seven approved projects on the list:

A new intermediate school will be built for the St. James attendance area, covering fifth and sixth grades.

The Horry County Education Center, Myrtle Beach Intermediate School which covers fourth, fifth, and sixth grades, and Socastee Elementary School will be replaced.

Additions will be put onto North Myrtle Beach Middle School, Forestbrook Middle School, and Midland Elementary School.

The schools on this list will not be replaced or renovated all at once, Chairman of the Horry County School Board Joe Defeo said it will be a pay-as-you-go plan, and the changes will be made over a seven year period.

Ultimately, the school board said they have been talking about getting the ball rolling on this plan since 2012, and Defeo said there are many reasons why waiting longer would not help.

"There are a lot of reasons for it, and part of it is Washington printing money. You print money, it causes inflation. Well that affects what we do here, and we have seen quite a steep rise in what I consider what it'll cost us to build something from two or three years ago. That's another reason why the board didn't want to delay it, wanted to get this moving," Defeo said.

Defeo said another reason to move this forward is to keep the overcrowding issue from getting worse in county schools, and to replace older school buildings.

The next step will be to hire architects to come up with the designs for the improvements.

Some board members on Monday night voiced concerns about the plan because they were worried there isn't enough funding available, while others say this short-term plan is being rushed.