ABBEVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – An Abbeville County School Board meeting overflowed with people Tuesday night as the board voted on a pivotal decision about the district’s future. The issue is over whether Abbeville and Dixie High Schools will be consolidated, and there are strong opinions on both sides.
The board has hired architects, and Tuesday night they voted on what kinds of cost estimates they want those architects to look into, whether renovating the current high schools, building new schools in their place, or consolidating them into one.
A motion that would have renovated and replaced parts of both Abbeville and Dixie High Schools was voted down by the board. Instead, the board voted to have architects quote prices for two options: 1) building two new schools on the existing sites in, and 2) building a consolidated school toward the center of the county and converting Dixie High School into a middle school. Both options would include a phased renovation of John C. Calhoun Elementary School.
The move comes amid concerns about conditions at Abbeville High School.
An independent report from 2016 detailed serious safety hazards and noted moisture problems.
Tabitha Brantly believes her daughter had to be hospitalized several times because of an allergic reaction to the mold at Abbeville High School.
“She actually went into anaphylactic shock,” Brantly said. “They did the EpiPen, and the EpiPen was not working at the time because she had been in the building for so long. She actually had to do home bound senior year.”
Some said combining Abbeville High and Dixie High would create more academic opportunities for students. Others said they want to keep the schools separate.
“A consolidated high school would be meaning my children’s going to have to spend time on buses…maybe two plus hours on a bus, where they don’t even ride the bus,” said parent Candace Collins.
Board member Brad Evans told 7News the final decision on consolidation will be up to voters, who will vote on a bond referendum.
According to the superintendent, the expense to get the cost estimates on the two options for the schools’ future will not exceed $250,000.