Horry County Schools overflowing this year, new schools on track to open 2017

The site of the new Carolina Forest Middle School is scheduled to open by the 2017 school year. (Summer Dashe/WPDE)

Many children in the area went back to school on Wednesday with too many kids in the classroom.

Preliminary numbers show that 15 out of 20 Horry County schools were already overcrowded at the start of the 2016 school year.

There could be some relief in the future, though. ABC15 News took a tour of one of five new, energy positive schools set to open next year.

Construction on Carolina Forest Middle School was ahead of schedule by mid-August and the project manager, Mark Beach, took our team around the site.

“It’ll have several different finishes on the outside,” Beach said, pointing to the cement skeleton of a building.

Beach, the man heading up the $46 million dollar project, seemed calm while walking around the site, often humming during our tour.

“This’ll be the cafeteria seating, actually, right in here,” Beach said, looking out across a wide open room.

The other new schools are set to look a lot like Carolina Forest Middle School. Those are Socastee Elementary, Socastee Middle, Myrtle Beach Middle and St. James Intermediate Schools.

“There are classrooms down the side there. Classrooms here, second floor, same set up there,” Beach said, motioning to some steel beams and cement posts outlining several classrooms.

The five new buildings will hold 900, 800, and 1,200 students each. Socastee Elementary will hold 900, Socastee Middle will hold 800, and the other three will each hold 1,200.

“This is going to help at the middle school level, especially,” Joe DeFeo, the Horry County School Board Chairman, said. “We’re going to be going into the overcrowding in some of the elementary schools just coming in to the next year or two, and that’s how fast the growth is.”

Nearby Ocean Bay Middle School was at an estimated 133 percent capacity, according to numbers provided by the district.

“With all the growth that’s going on ... it’s a very good location, so we can have a lot of flexibility,” DeFeo explained.

DeFeo has been a big supporter of the energy positive concept, which sparked some controversy for its high price tag.

Related - ABC 15 Investigates: Horry County energy positive schools burn through budget

Beach showed our team one energy positive feature currently under construction at Carolina Forest Middle School: A soccer or football field being built over top of the geothermal unit.

Beach has overseen the construction of hospitals and stadiums, so this 160,000-square-foot school is just another day for him.

“This would actually be, I believe, their fourth energy positive school and, looking at their background and history, they’ve been delivering to everybody on time and delivering the promises,” DeFeo said of the company. "So when you have a background like that going into the building, that’s a big thing.”

There’s no room for delays when the top five most crowded schools are desperate for relief: Ocean Bay Middle School is at 133 percent, Forestbrook Middle School is at 129 percent, St. James Middle School is at 125 percent, North Myrtle Beach Middle School is at 117 percent, and Burgess Elementary School is at 115 percent capacity.

“Horry County is doing very well and this is just an extension of that because you always want to get better,” DeFeo explained.

All five schools are set to open by the start of the 2017 school year.

Officials say attendance lines may change to accommodate the needs of the area and the announcement about that will come closer to the opening of each of those schools.

Projected overcrowding numbers for category one schools for 2016 are:

Aynor Elementary – 100%
Burgess Elementary – 115%
Carolina Forest Elementary – 102%
Forestbrook Elementary – 100%
Lakewood Elementary – 106%
Midland Elementary – 108%
Myrtle Beach Primary – 105%
Myrtle Beach Elementary – 100%
Myrtle Beach Intermediate – 100%
Ocean Bay Elementary – 100%
Ocean Drive Elementary – 102%
Riverside Elementary – 103%
River Oaks Elementary – 107%
St. James Elementary – 108%
Aynor Middle – 110%
Forestbrook Middle – 129%
Myrtle Beach Middle – 113%
North Myrtle Beach Middle – 117%
Ocean Bay Middle – 133%
St. James Middle – 125%

The district will send out final overcrowding numbers in September or October. We will bring you those findings once they are released.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off