ABBEVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Abbeville County voters rejected a $55.7 million bond referendum Tuesday night, with nearly 83 percent of voters against the referendum.

“The people spoke,” said Abbeville County School District Superintendent Dr. Mason Gary. “The vote didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, but it’s a new day and we’ve got to move forward.”

The 25-year bonds would have paid for upgrades at Abbeville High School and Dixie High School.

“People clearly have an issue,” said parent Tori Atkins, who was against the referendum. “I think money is the most problematic right now given the current economic situation.”

Without this funding, Dr. Gary said district leaders need a solution for the aging infrastructure.

“We still have a need for academic space with 70-year-old buildings. So, the new question is what is an acceptable plan, how’s that going to be presented, designed, and funded,” said Dr. Gary.

Some voters said money wasn’t their only issue with the referendum.

“We’ve got some overcrowding issues at some of the elementary schools, so we were mainly just concerned we didn’t have a definite plan with concrete information,” said Atkins.

Some parents were also concerned the district would eventually combine the high schools and move some middle school students into Dixie, as classrooms fill up due to growth in the area.

“I will always fight to keep our community schools. We need our schools in our local communities. We’re very rural,” said Atkins.

Superintendent Gary said consolidation wasn’t a part of this plan, but he said now that the referendum has failed, the school board will have to consider all of its options.

“We’ve not said that for the 2022 referendum. Now that we’re back to the drawing board, could that come back up? Yes, that could,” said Gary.

District parents want board members listen to the community and hope both sides can reach an agreement.

“Something needs to be done, but we need to do it within our means for the county, something everyone’s going to be able to afford,” said Atkins.

The school board meets Tuesday and Gary said they’ll discuss the district’s next steps.

Election results show about a 20% voter turnout in the special election.