Fifteen schools in Horry County are packed.
With each being at or above 100% capacity, the latest school population data has district officials talking about ways to relieve overcrowding, particularly at schools in the growing Carolina Forest area.
“There are options for addressing that growth,” said HCS Planning Director Joe Burch. “And I think we have the real estate to do it.”
Attendance data will be used to help guide recommendations on future additions, renovations and new construction plans, but Burch said it won’t be the only deciding factor.
Currently, River Oaks Elementary School is at 148% capacity, and Ocean Bay Elementary follows a close second at 132% capacity.
Two new elementary schools are in the works for the Carolina Forest area, and those would also feed into Carolina Forest High School, who stands at 117% capacity.
CFHS has eight modular classrooms now, and school officials hope to have eight more soon. The school floats 17 teachers through the school using all existing modular classrooms. They also have 22 teaching vacancies.
“There’s no doubt there needs to be another high school in the area,” District 8 board member Melanie Wellons said. “We’re expecting at least 1,000 more students at that school – 16 modulars isn’t going to cut it.”
The district owns 122 modulars and is getting ready to vote on purchasing a few modulars for Pee Dee Elementary, and leasing 22 others to be used at Carolina Forest Elementary, Ocean Bay Elementary, St. James Elementary and Carolina Forest High.
The estimated cost would be less than $3.8 million, according to Neil James, who chairs the board’s facilities committee.
With the two new elementary schools on the to-do list, Burch said once those open, that will free up 64 modular classrooms to be used in other schools once the Carolina Forest elementary population is spread out amongst the new facilities.
HCS Chief of Support Services Daryl Brown said that discussions are already in the works on how best to alleviate the Carolina Forest overcrowding, which include something they saw in a different district that involved a three-story stand-alone addition.
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