The newest Carolina Forest middle school may just hold two grade levels – as opposed to the usual three – if the Horry County Board of Education decides it’ll save the district money in the long run.
Ray Winters, board member, proposed switching the new planned Carolina Forest middle school to an intermediate school, which would only hold grades seven and eight. The existing Ocean Bay Middle school – which is overcrowded – would be renovated to hold grades five and six, according to Winters’ proposal.
I’d like to know how you justify spending extra money for possible growth, when other places with serious needs have been ignored in the past.
Janet Graham, board member
Splitting up the middle school model would help spread out fifth-graders from the overcrowded Carolina Forest elementary schools, Winters said, which would prevent the district from having “portable cities” behind those schools. It would also keep Carolina Forest High’s athletic facilities from becoming overburdened, since middle school students use some of the equipment and fields for their own teams.
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“If we don’t do something in those [elementary] schools we’re going to be in a situation where they are overfilled,” Winters said Monday during the board’s regular meeting.
$2.3 million Estimated first-year cost of a Carolina Forest Intermediate school
Joe DeFeo, board chairman, suggested a study on the costs associated with switching the proposed middle school to an intermediate and the costs of renovating Ocean Bay Middle to incorporate fifth-graders. The board will discuss the issue again at its June 20 meeting.
The St. James and Myrtle Beach attendance areas have their own intermediate schools, so it’s not a new concept to the district. The intermediate schools allow district officials to hold off on building more new schools, because they spread the grade levels around, DeFeo said.
Still, the population boom in Carolina Forest means the district has to start looking at more new schools now, said board member Neil James.
“Can we look at the next cycle of when we need buildings built, so we can see if it offers us cost-savings in the long run?” James asked.
What I’d like to know is what it’s going to cost if we don’t do this and what’s it going to cost if we do do this.
Joe DeFeo, board chairman
Some board members are worried that having only two Carolina Forest middle schools would put a burden on those schools’ athletics. John Poston, board member, said the teams would have to enlist twice as many students so everyone has a chance to compete. Spreading out athletes among three schools, instead of just two, would make it easier for those student athletes, he said.
The estimated first-year cost of turning the middle school into an intermediate is about $2.3 million, which includes purchasing buses and playground equipment for fifth grade, according to a document presented to the board. Any recurring costs would come from bus maintenance and fuel, just like other schools.
District officials will study Winters’ proposal and present their findings to the board later this month.
Claire Byun: 843-626-0381, @Claire_TSN