AIKEN --- The Aiken County school bond referendum was defeated with a resounding "no" Tuesday. Seventy percent of residents voted against the $236 million referendum to upgrade six school facilities.
"I know just because we've won this victory ... they (the Aiken County school district) expected this to happen," said Jane Page Thompson, of the Vote No group.
With 78 of 78 precincts reporting, 13,716 voters opposed the measure and 5,744 favored it.
"I'm sorry it didn't pass," said Barry Adams of Security Federal Bank, the chairman of the Vote Yes for Kids group. "I truly think it's the right thing to do, but the great thing about living in this nation is that majority rules, and today a majority of the voters said, 'Nope, it's not the right thing to do, or it's not the right time, or it's not the right amount of money.' "
The bond issue got significant support in Saluda County, home of Ridge Spring-Monetta Elementary/Middle, with all of the precincts supporting the referendum.
In the cities of Aiken and North Augusta, where support for the referendum was expected to be greater, less than a handful of precincts favored it.
The school board and administrators will now have to decide how they will use an annual estimated $14 million to repair and upgrade facilities.
Deputy Superintendent David Caver said Jackson Middle School would be at the top of that list. The school's cafeteria area was scheduled for a major renovation before the bond referendum was put on the ballot.
Superintendent Beth Everitt said it was too soon to say whether the district would pursue another referendum anytime soon, but she thought the research conducted on facility needs was healthy and useful in helping shape long-term plans.
"I think the conversation and the questions that were asked, all of that helps inform our community," she said. "Even though we didn't win, I still think it's been a great process. We'll move forward."