Fountain Inn is the only municipality in Greenville County without a high school.
That could soon change.
The Greenville County Schools board voted Tuesday night to buy 61.54 acres of land on Quillen Avenue just blocks off Main Street in Fountain Inn from three property owners for nearly $2.2 million.
The school district plans to open a new high school in southern Greenville County in 2017, according to its long-range facilities plan.
“If we build a new high school in Fountain Inn, it will create a sense of belonging and pride,” said Jack West, past chairman of the Fountain Inn Chamber of Commerce and the parent of two elementary-school aged daughters. “Fountain Inn is beginning to blossom.”
Fountain Inn hasn’t had a high school since the late 1950s.
Students from that city attend Hillcrest and Woodmont high schools, which have suffered from overcrowding in recent years due to the explosive population growth of the county’s southern end.
And, the growth, while not as brisk as it once was because of the economy, continues.
Planners expect Fountain Inn’s population to more than double by 2030 with neighboring Simpsonville not far behind.
Simpsonville Mayor Dennis Waldrop told school board members the city is beginning to receive calls from multi-family residential developers.
The new high school would also relieve overcrowding at Mauldin High.
Riverside High was the last new high school built in Greenville County. It opened in 1973 and serves the Greer area.
Ironically, the new school is a short distance from the old Fountain Inn High School, which has helped spur that city’s downtown revitalization efforts.
The old high school on Main Street was converted into the Fountain Inn Civic Center for the Performing Arts, a facility that attracts thousands of people for various events, classes and meetings, said Van Broad, who directs the Civic Center and Fountain Inn’s economic development efforts.
“For years, Fountain Inn High School has been a source of pride,” he said.
Fountain Inn officials actively pushed for the new high school to be located there, Broad said.
City officials showed the school district several different sites.
They wanted the new school as close to downtown as possible to boost a revitalization effort that has included a new farmer’s market, history museum and a new streetscape plan.
John Hastings, president of the Fountain Inn Chamber of Commerce, said the area is attracting new industry and the Delta Woodside building on Interstate 385 is being marketed now.
“The growth is happening now,” he said.
Broad said a high school is important for community pride and spirit.
“A school can and should be at the heart of the community,” he said.
The new high school is expected to relieve overcrowding at Mauldin, Hillcrest and Woodmont.
But it’s not the only construction the district plans in that area.
A 400-student addition is planned for Woodmont High in 2014, according to the long-range facilities plan.