Abbeville County School District hosted the second of two high school tours Thursday evening as it battles talk of the schools’ poor maintenance.
At an Aug. 27 board meeting, a student at Abbeville High told trustees the conditions at the school were “horrid” and the parent of another held up a bottle of brownish liquid saying it was water taken from one of the school’s fountains earlier that day.
Meanwhile, trustees are debating whether to consolidate Abbeville and Dixie high schools, citing facility reports conducted by outside firms, which found both schools long overdue for major renovations, if not outright replacement.
District administration said some of the more lurid details about the conditions within Abbeville High were inaccurate and opened it and Dixie High to the public to ease concerns.
Parents of students at Dixie High — or those who will eventually attend — made the majority of those who come to the second of Thursday night’s two tours at the school.
Brooke Brown brought her daughter Ella, 8, on the tour. Ella was wearing a green shirt with the Dixie hornet that read, “Class of 2029.”
Jason Ashley, whose children will eventually attend Dixie, went to both tours Thursday and toured Abbeville High on Tuesday.
Like the other parents on the tour, he said something had to be done at Abbeville High School — just not all at once. Echoing trustee Keith Dunn, he said the county is too poor to shoulder the tax increase that would come with a new Abbeville High or consolidated, countywide high school. Instead, he thinks the school should undergo phased renovations instead.
Some on the tour said Dixie is in better shape than Abbeville High if only slightly, something they attributed to the school’s foundation.
Assistant Principal Paul Prescott said the Dixie High School Foundation has poured $250,000 into the school since 2004. Recently, it has purchased graphing calculators, computers for the computer lab and lights for the baseball/softball field.
Ashley said several parents on the night’s earlier tour, whose children attend or will attend Abbeville High, were taking pictures of things at Dixie — AEDs, for example — that Abbeville High doesn’t have.
“They can start their own foundation,” one woman on the tour said in response.
Lisa Alewine, whose children attend Dixie and nearby Cherokee Trail Elementary, documented the tour on Facebook live. She has established the ACSD Cliff Notes Facebook page where she posts trustee contact information and cost and tax estimates for different facility plans.
She said the page is an effort to cool the tempers of parents on both sides of the consolidation/renovation debate.
“I feel like everyone is commenting with emotions and almost hysteria,” Alewine said.