“I understand the frustration, but we need space too”: NAHS Athletic Booster Club responds to concerns from band parents

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC. (WJBF) – The controversy over storage space on the campus of North Augusta High School continues.

Band parents are frustrated over losing the space due to construction of new athletic fields for Yellow Jacket baseball and softball.

But Athletic Booster Club VP Danny Geddes says this move has been years in the making.

“There’s been many, many firm commitments from multiple boards and multiple generations. There’s been a lot of people before me working on this very hard, pushing like I’ve been for the last 5 to 6 years on this project, driving it forward as best I can,” said Geddes.

Geddes adds the initiative is something the citizens of North Augusta have been wanting for close to 4 decades, and it stems from a long history of needs at the school.

“This comes long before me,” said Geddes. “There’s been a long history of needs at North Augusta High School that have been requested through county funds.”

ALSO ON WJBF: Rosa Parks honored for ‘Transit Equity Day’ ahead of birthday

But he says a factor contributing to the issue is the need for help from the community, after being unable to get monetary support from the district.

“For example, the football field we’re standing across from–that was built with community funds when the district wouldn’t provide it for us,” said Geddes. “Over the years, we’ve seen multiple examples like that where we build a stadium with community funds, community donations and private money, and everybody else in the county gets it with district money.”

The project was approved 10 years ago by Aiken County voters in the sales tax referendum–and Geddes says it will be a solution to a major problem.

“There’s safety issues having to drive off-campus every day to go play or practice. So, there’s a lot of the concerns, but they need to be on campus, everything needs to be on campus, and it allows everybody to participate a lot easier,” said Geddes.

The $8.5 Million project means the school’s band will have to find new storage space off campus.

The Aiken County School District says on campus storage is not possible without contributing to a parking area shortage or violating fire code.

Geddes says he understands where band parents are coming from, but the same reality has hit baseball, softball, and other programs around the school.

“I understand the frustration of being off campus. Our programs that are going to be here have had to do all of their functions off campus for 40 years or so. Baseball and softball have been playing at Riverview, we still have several programs that have to participate off campus. But I understand that frustration,” said Geddes.

Parents sent a letter to the Aiken County School Board outlining their complaints. Geddes says he saw the letter himself, and says the concerns are understandable.

“There wasn’t anything wrong with the letter I saw,” said Geddes. “But what I get concerned with is when it hits social media, and there’s a lot of false narratives out there from people who don’t know the whole story.”

He says space is needed all around, and hopes everyone can come to the best solution for band, baseball, and all Yellow Jacket programs.

“I know the school and administration is making every effort to find a temporary solution until we can find a more permanent solution. That could potentially be in the next round of sales tax money, or some school and county money made available to help solve the problem permanently,” said Geddes.

ALSO ON WJBF: The Talking It Up Show celebrates 18 years on the radio

“Whether it be additions to the auditorium, or an additional building close to the football stadium, I hope we can come together and meet some true needs that we need in this next round of sales tax money.”

Geddes says the fields were supposed to be in place already, but the COVID-19 pandemic and other complications pushed the completion date back.

However, he says the expected completion date for the fields is now March 1, 2025.

To find the full statement from the Aiken County School District, click here.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WJBF.