Education

Additional $7 million needed to finish renovations at 2 Horry County schools

Funding for two Horry school renovations up in the air

Neil James, Horry County Board of Education member, said the district has reserve funding to pay for renovations at North Myrtle Beach Middle and Midland Elementary schools. The question of whether that reserve funding will be used is still up in
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Neil James, Horry County Board of Education member, said the district has reserve funding to pay for renovations at North Myrtle Beach Middle and Midland Elementary schools. The question of whether that reserve funding will be used is still up in

Horry County Schools says it needs another $7.4 million to finish the scope of additions at two aging schools.

The original budget to renovate both schools was about $18.5 million, but increased construction costs spurred the extra expenditures. The cost to complete all of the planned work – which includes more classrooms and a traffic loop – is now more than $34 million.

“It’s something that’s been planned, but the costs have escalated a bit so now we need to prepare the funds,” Neil James, board member, said.

Both schools were identified as at-capacity several years ago, James said, but due to increased area demand on construction services the price has also rocketed. District officials debated just finishing the initial scope of work – which totals about $6 million – but the district’s facilities committee wanted to include North Myrtle Beach’s elongated traffic loop.

Rick Maxey, superintendent, cautioned the committee against leaving out the parent traffic loop.

“We have done the expansion of the loops at other locations, and I don’t want to go down the road and year and ask why we didn’t do it here,” Maxey said during the committee’s meeting Monday.

We have to be smart on how we approach the actual construction so we don’t cause any more disruptions than we have to.

Mark Wolfe, executive director of facilities

John Gardner, chief financial officer, said the district has enough money in reserve funds but urged board officials to consider a long-term budgeting plan for all future projects.

The district has already budgeted $240.3 million to build five new schools, which is $72.9 million over the original budget. The schools – which are all contracted to be built by First Floor Energy Positive – are slated to open by August 2017.

“If we’re going to raise money in the building fund, there’s only one way to do it: you need to raise millage,” Gardner said. “We need to have a comprehensive approach and bring all the pieces together, because it seems like every meeting it’s more and more money.”

Midland Elementary is getting an additional 40,000 square feet that includes a new kitchen, cafeteria and some new classrooms. North Myrtle Beach Middle is adding more classrooms, Mark Wolfe, executive director of facilities, said.

I think we need to consider canceling projects at Aynor Middle and Horry County Education Center. If we keep on delaying this, it’s going to keep costing us.

Joe DeFeo, board of education chair

Pike McFarland Hall Associates, Inc. is contracted to renovate Midland Elementary School at a nonrecurring cost of about $11 million, according to documents from the district. The firm is based in Myrtle Beach and has built several schools for the district, including South Conway and North Myrtle Beach elementary schools.

D3G Architects LLC. is contracted to renovate North Myrtle Beach Middle School at a nonrecurring cost of about $7.5 million, according to documents. D3G Architects is also based in Myrtle Beach and has worked with the district before, Wolfe said.

The over-budget projects will be funded through a combination of general obligation bonds, equipment lease financing and sales tax funds, according Gardner. All five new schools plus the two renovations are part of an 11-year, $541.3 million capital building plan approved by the district years ago.

The district approved a capital projects plan in September 2013 – which went through several revisions – and a call for design services was issued for renovations and additions to the two schools.

Claire Byun: 843-626-0381, @Claire_TSN

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