SC school district may need more modular classrooms for rising student population

Around the South

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County Schools is trying to figure out how to have enough room for the growing number of students in the district.

HCS has 64 modular classrooms across the district. This includes 12 new ones installed this school year. Six are at Ocean Bay Elementary and six are at St. James High School.

HCS says more will be needed as the county’s population keeps growing.

“We see most of our growth in the Carolina Forest area, but we know the South Strand and North Myrtle Beach are also seeing big growth as well,” said HCS spokesperson Lisa Bourcier.

The district’s facilities committee met Monday and discussed which schools are likely to need modular classrooms over the next five years. That includes eight modulars for Carolina Forest, River Oaks and Ocean Bay elementary schools for next school year. Those would cost $1.62 million.

The district is projected to grow by 3,451 students by 2025. By 2024, HCS estimates that 25% of all students will go to schools in the Carolina Forest attendance area.

Many schools at or over capacity could need to add more class space.

“In particular, some of the high schools are going to see some pressure over the next five years,” said HCS planning coordinator Joe Burch.

Six other elementary or high schools could also need more modulars by 2025. Waccamaw Elementary School, St. James Elementary School and St. James High may require additional modulars. Waterway Elementary School, Carolina Forest High School and Socastee High School may need modulars, which they don’t have right now.

Installing the modulars at some schools could be tricky because other upgrades may be required to meet Horry County’s stormwater requirements.

“We need to meet with the county to determine what, if anything, they’re going to make us do for sitework improvements,” said Mark Wolfe, executive director of facilities for HCS.

No new schools or expansion projects from the district’s five-year capital plan are ready for construction yet. HCS recently built five new schools: Myrtle Beach Middle School, Socastee Elementary School, Socastee Middle School, St. James Intermediate School and Ten Oaks Middle School.

District leaders say modulars can be cheaper solutions to temporary trends of how many kids are at a particular school.

“We’ve seen school districts where they’re closing schools,” Bourcier said. “We don’t want to be at that point where we’re actually overbuilding and having to close schools. It’s very expensive to build a school.”

The HCS board still needs to approve buying the eight modular classrooms for next school year.

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