A referendum for the construction of a countywide high school in Abbeville may occur as soon as April 28.
Abbeville School District Board of Trustees passed a motion to construct and equip a new countywide school —including land acquisition —, renovate and improve the existing Dixie High School to become a middle school and renovate John C. Calhoun Elementary to address security and other life safety issues at Tuesday’s special called board meeting.
Brandon Adger gave the motion and Marvin Peoples seconded it, Tim Rhodes and Chairman James Tisdale voted for the motion passing it by a 4-3 vote.
Buster Taylor, David Brooks and Keith Dunn voted against the motion based on concerns about the net operational costs of the plan and the indecisiveness on where the countywide high school would be located.
“We don’t know where this property will be or how much it will cost,” Brooks said.
LSP3 architects presented the costs of building a countywide high school, renovating Dixie High School into a middle school and renovating John C. Calhoun Elementary prior to the vote. It would cost $3.2 million to renovate John C. Calhoun Elementary, $6 million to renovate Dixie High School into a middle school and $68.9 million to build a communitywide high school.
The motion the board passed agreed to not exceed $63 million to complete the construction of the new high school and the renovations, but the motion also agreed to issue an obligation bond of $9.2 million to be used toward constructing and equipping a new football stadium complex with a track and related facilities on the campus of the countywide high school — contingent on of if the referendum passes.
The board also passed a resolution that would make the earliest possible start date for the referendum April 28. Dunn suggested the date because it will be on the same day as the board’s special election to replace Mark Peeler who resigned in January. The resolution passed 5-2, Dunn and Brooks voted against it.
Numerous motions were suggested throughout the meeting, including one Buster Taylor called the most confusing motion he’s heard in 20 years.
On the property issue, Taylor did reflect on his time on the board during the first $10 million referendum.
“We had no land but we knew where we would like to build,” he said. “We had a design of building, and while they were doing that design, we found a property.”
Brandon Evans stressed during the meeting that "when you have a divided board you have a divided county."
"At the end of the day it’s really going to be about the voters and how much taxes are going to go up," he said.