HCS to spend $21 million on Myrtle Beach Middle site. When will renovation work begin?

Construction crews will soon descend upon the former Myrtle Beach Middle School site to begin renovation work for use as an elementary school.
Construction crews will soon descend upon the former Myrtle Beach Middle School site to begin renovation work for use as an elementary school. The Sun News

Horry County school trustees wasted little time in approving a plan to renovate the former Myrtle Beach Middle School site.

The school board unanimously voted Monday to spend more than $21 million to renovate the site for use by elementary students, teachers and administrators in grades 3-5. H.G. Reynolds Company will serve as the project’s general contractor.

According to Horry County Schools, the price tag covers the cost of replacing the gym floor, carpeting, HVAC system throughout the facility, installation of a sprinkler system, plumbing, light bulbs and other repairs.

Built in 1996, work on the old middle school site could begin within the next two weeks. Completion is slated for August, just in time for the 2018-19 school term.

“The work we’re doing to the Myrtle Beach Middle School site will extend the life of the school by an additional 20 years,” said Horry County school board chairman Joe DeFeo. “In essence, the building had another 20 years of life left, so we’re adding to that. Repurposing and renovation is way cheaper than building a new school, one that in 20 years we’d likely have to renovate anyway.

“To us, it felt like a better use of our money.”

The building now sits vacant after the opening of the new Myrtle Beach Middle School earlier this month.

A dazzling 170,000-square foot structure on Oak Street, the “energy positive” facility includes 36 classrooms and 12 science rooms. Also at students’ disposal are six open collaborative spaces and nine exploratory classrooms.

In addition to allowing the district to repurpose one of its facilities, it also helps alleviate overcrowding concerns at Myrtle Beach Primary.

According to HCS figures, the school is at 107 percent capacity. Modular buildings are being used in an effort to temporarily offset issues with an ever growing school population.

“In my opinion, we solved multiple problems at one time,” DeFeo said.

Approximately $19.5 million of the project will be funded by the district’s short-term facilities plan. The remaining portion will be paid by residual capital improvement funds and an undesignated general fund balance.

DeFeo said the original price tag was substantially higher, but certain “unnecessary additives” were slashed from the wish list.

“Things like lowering a ceiling to give elementary school feel was one of a few things we believed to be a waste of funds,” he said. “You never know what the next 15 years will hold. We might have to repurpose it back to a middle school.”

Though the total price tag is expected to cover all pertinent issues, DeFeo said more funding could be devoted to the project. “You never know exactly what is behind certain walls until you begin to open them up,” he said.

Joe L. Hughes II: 843-444-1702, @JoeLHughesII