Horry County school board OKs budget, building plan

The Horry County school board voted unanimously Monday night to give final approval to the 2014-15 budget for Horry County Schools, and to approve a 10-year building plan through 2022-23.

The approved budget totals about $563 million and will not increase taxes, but it once again does not include a 2 percent salary increase for employees who will not receive a step increase. The general fund is about $356 million and will use about $6.2 million from the district’s fund balance.

The building plan replaces the short-term plan that the board approved in September. Designed by board member Jeffrey Garland, the $427.6 million plan was approved as proposed but will likely see future adjustments.

Board members have said they wanted to approve the plan and get started, and decide later how the funding will work.

Garland stipulated that the plan be subject to a yearly review and also that architects working on new school prototypes provide the board with at least one design for each type of school that comes within the board’s budget.

Last week, the steering committee that is working with the architects was told that several designs — including those for a middle school that would meet the district’s future needs — would be over budget.

The committee has been looking at a 1,200-student middle school model, which the district said is needed to meet student growth in several attendance areas. Architects said such a model would cost in the range of $35 million to $40 million, Garland said. His plan has budgeted $29 million for each of three new middle schools to be built in Myrtle Beach, Carolina Forest and Socastee.

Board Chairman Joe DeFeo said the plan can be amended later if the board has any changes.