ABBEVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – This month, Abbeville County voters will decide on a ballot referendum that could bring improvements to Abbeville and Dixie High Schools.

Superintendent Dr. Mason Gary said the schools need improvements, and some portions of the buildings were built in the 1950s.

“They are very much showing their age,” said Gary.

On May 17, 2022, voters will be asked to support new cafeterias and academic wings at both schools. If people vote yes, they’ll also consider a ballot question regarding new locker rooms, gyms, and tracks at each school.

“I’m not attacking the whole building, I’m attacking the worst parts of those two buildings, those two high schools,” said Gary.

To make the upgrades, Gary said voters will have to pay for it and approve 25-year bonds to support the projects. Each project comes with a big price tag.

“To have what you need; you’ve got to pay for it. If you want police protection, if you want good infrastructure and roads, if you want good schools, you’ve got to pay for it,” said Gary.

He said the combined total cost is $55.7 million. The district won’t know the interest rate, until it’s approved.

It means taxes will go up and it’s one of the reasons some people say they’re voting “no.”

“Every resident, whether you’re a rental or a business owner or retired, you’re going to be affected by this,” said Lisa Alewine, a parent in the district.

Alewine believes the need for extra space isn’t the same at both high schools.

“I think it creates a wish list at one school and it creates problems and overcrowding at another,” said Alewine.

She said Dixie and its feeder schools are growing and said some middle school classes could eventually consolidate into the high school. She worries the upgrades aren’t a long-term solution to accommodate growth.

“We need to foresee the problems that are going to arise in our other aging schools. We have 9 schools total, and our newest ones are over 20 years old. So, we need to make sure that we’re going to address this and not keep recirculating the problem where we max out our credit,” said Alewine.

Superintendent Gary said the classrooms are all used, but are not at or over capacity at Dixie. He said the new building could add more classrooms to the campus. Superintendent Gary is also hosting community meetings across the district leading up to the election in hopes of answering voters’ questions.

The full ballot question can be viewed below: