As the Beaufort County Board of Education examines the school district’s crowded classrooms, one board member says he will ask his peers at Tuesday night’s meeting to consider getting an outsider’s opinion on how to address growing enrollment.
For more than two months, the school board has been considering ways to alleviate overcrowding, including rezoning students to different schools, installing mobile classrooms or holding another referendum to build new brick-and-mortar schools.
Board member Joseph Dunkle is expected to make a motion to hire an outside consultant for a review of student assignment, enrollment growth and future facility use.
Dunkle introduced the strategy at last month’s work session after schools superintendent Jeff Moss implied the overcrowding is worse than the building capacity numbers show when “conditions,” such as special education regulations and other programs are included.
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Moss offered the board no new data to support this claim. District spokesman Jim Foster was also unable to provide this data early last week.
An “update on building capacity projections” is listed as an item on the superintendent’s report of Tuesday’s meeting agenda.
At the Oct. 28 work session, Moss said he had no problem with an independent study, but said it would cost “millions of dollars,” a point board chairman Earl Campbell agreed was unnecessary.
Moss also said Horry County schools used this strategy and are now facing a “big financial and (public relations) problem.”
When the Horry County Board of Education was looking to build new schools in 2014, the board hired an environmental consultant for $875,000 for a “district-wide needs assessment,” according to the Myrtle Beach Sun News.
The board then scrapped this study and paid another consultant $40,000, whose advice they decided to ignore and instead selected the firm with the most-expensive construction cost.
The Sun News reported the selected firm was more than $70 million over the district’s initial budget, did not open all of the schools on the agreed-upon timeline and failed to provide as much in energy-cost savings as promised.
“What they are under fire for is things completely different,” Dunkle wrote in an email Monday.