Fayetteville's E.E. Smith High School could move to location on Fort Liberty grounds

Monique John Image
Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Fayetteville's E.E. Smith High could move to Fort Liberty location
A town hall meeting was held Tuesday night at E.E. Smith High to talk about the potential relocation of the aging school.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A town hall meeting was held Tuesday night at E.E. Smith High to talk about the potential relocation of the aging school.

The school, which is on Seabrook Road in Fayetteville could be moved to Fort Liberty property because so many students from the Army post attend Smith.

More than 200 people attended the meeting, which was moderated by Dr. A. Jamale Johnson of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church

According to Cumberland County Schools, the focus was on three main objectives:

  • Addressing the urgent need for a new E.E. Smith High School
  • Exploring potential sites and design considerations
  • Sharing accurate information, gathering feedback, and addressing questions from stakeholders

A school district administrator said a site by Fort Liberty on the Stryker Golf Course was the only viable option to build the school to the larger size they required to build. CCS also looked at seven other sites.

CCS also said expanding to a larger site was important for meeting modern education standards.

"With additional space, we'll be able to have all the athletic fields -- any kinds of outdoor athletic fields, we'll be able to get for the students," said Associate Superintendent Kevin Coleman. "Also, with programs, programs have continuously changed. They're doing a lot of stuff with drones, augmented reality, cyber security."

Some parents told ABC11 that it would be a big adjustment for young people getting to and from class.

E.E. Smith is a fixture in the Broadell community known for being a historically Black high school that opened in 1953.

CCS said the old building's worsening conditions are why it needs to be rebuilt. But they also said its 27-acre campus is too small, and that it needs to expand somewhere else to have 70 to 100 acres to meet state building code requirements.

"Our objective is to construct a modern, 21st-century E.E. Smith High School designed to overcome existing structural and educational challenges," said CCS Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly. "As a Nationally Certified STEM Campus, E.E. Smith High School provides specialized programs in science, mathematics, engineering, arts, and technology. However, despite numerous facility upgrades, the current building and spatial limitations continue to restrict the development and expansion of these cutting-edge programs. We recognize the historical significance and the deep community ties to the current E.E. Smith High School, and we carry forward this legacy with a commitment to honor its past while building on its potential."

CCS officials said that even though the school would be close to Fort Liberty, it would be outside of the gates, so students wouldn't need special access to the military installation.

CCS said the estimated cost for rebuilding E.E. Smith could be almost $160 million.

During the Town Hall meeting, Lt. Gen. Christopher T. Donahue, the Commanding General of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Liberty, emphasized the strategic benefits of situating the school at the Stryker Golf Course location, saying such a move could secure millions in Department of Defense funding to support the project.

The school district said the existing building could be repurposed for other educational programs.

Cumberland County Commissioners are tasked with making the final decision on the proposal and determining the project's timeline.