Obama references Dillon County school in press conference

Media outlets from across the country made phone calls to a school in Dillon Tuesday, following President Barack Obama's first prime time news conference Monday night.

When asked why the federal government is getting involved with school construction, here's what the president had to say.

"Well, I visited a school down in South Carolina that was built in the 1850's. Kids are still learning in that school, as best they can. When the -- when the railroad -- when the -- it's right next to a railroad. And when the train runs by, the whole building shakes and the teacher has to stop teaching for a while."

The school he was talking about is J.V. Martin Junior High. Today we returned to the school and talked with district officials about the president's stimulus package and how they feel it might help.

Prresident Barack Obama visited the 112 year old school in August of 2007.

He shot a few hoops and met with school officials on the conditions of the dilapidated building.

"He came here and said he would never forget the area," said Ray Rogers, superintendent of Dillon District 2.

In his first prime time news conference Monday night, President Obama remembered J.V. Martin and referenced it, when asked should the federal government get involved in school constrution.

He talked about the building's age and how it shakes every time a train comes through.

Sandra Bridgers teaches at J.V. Martin.

"When the train comes through it actually, even though this building is sturdy the windows shake and we have to stop teaching," said Bridgers.

District officials say they thought they would have been out of the old building by now, but the economy has changed things.

In 2007, residents passed a $60 million bond referendum to build new schools, but because of the economy the bonds just aren't selling.

"We didn't know the economy was gonna take a turn like it has, and right now the bonds... banks just not wanting to venture that kind of money and give us what we need for those bonds," said Rogers.

So for now, construction on the new schools has been delayed.

District officials hope for the best with the president's stimulus package.

One version of the package contains federal funds to build new schools.

"Whether it will be taken out or not, who knows? The only thing you can say is that the man lived up to his end of the bargain," said Rogers.

District officials hope the end result will mean money for them to build a new junior high school to replace J.V. Martin, so their students can get a chance to learn in a decent building.

District officials say for now they plan to maintain J.V. Martin school as best they can.