Is E.E. Smith High really going to be on Fort Liberty? Town hall addresses questions (2024)

A town hall meeting Tuesday night about a potential new E.E. Smith High School drew alumni who want to preserve school history,along with remarks from the district superintendent comparing the debate about where to place the new school to the Israelites’ 40-year desert wanderings.

School officials said they hope to move the school from Seabrook Road in Fayetteville to a proposed new building on the northern part of Stryker Golf Course on Bragg Boulevard, on military land outside Fort Liberty’s gates.

Officials say that the 27-acre property where E.E. Smith has operated for decades falls short of the 70 to 100 acres the state Department of Public Instruction recommends for high schools, and a new state-of-the-art facility is required to grow the school’s science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics and athletic programs.

Is E.E. Smith High really going to be on Fort Liberty? Town hall addresses questions (1)

Proposed E.E. Smith school would operate with federal school system

Lt. Gen. Christoper Donahue, senior commander of Fort Liberty and the 18th Airborne Corps, said the new school would be jointly operated by the Department of Defense Education Activity with the county school district and would be eligible for DOD education funding if built on the proposed federal property. With no high school on post, Fort Liberty’s high school students have long attended E.E. Smith, he said.

Superintendent Marvin Connelly Jr. said the community has frequently discussed the need for a new E.E. Smith, and the issue of where to build it has been “wandering and wandering” like “Israelites in the desert.” He said that if the county doesn’t jump at the opportunity to build it with Fort Liberty, the military installation could instead partner with Harnett County to build a high school on post.

E.E. Smith alumni want to preserve school's historically Black legacy

At the meeting, E.E. Smith graduates who graduated as early as 1957, expressed concern about erasing the historically Black school’s legacy, especially if the new school is built in conjunction with Fort Liberty.

“We care about the legacy of E.E. Smith just as much as you do,” Donahue said.

He said that officials plan to put into place a “memorandum of agreement” that would prohibit a future name change. The school could keep its iconic 1800 address number and a new street leading to the school could be named E.E. Smith Boulevard, or whatever name the current students choose, he said.

Some alumni said that moving the school from its current location in Fayetteville's Broadell neighborhood would weaken the area.

“We don’t want the community to die,” alumnus Marzella Jones said.

Previously:Why alumni don't want a new E.E. Smith on Fort Liberty

Connelly said that the Broadell neighborhood would gain a specialty career and technical high school where students could learn trades like cosmetology, plumbing and construction at the current E.E. Smith location.

“In no way will we let this building sit empty,” he said.

Is E.E. Smith High really going to be on Fort Liberty? Town hall addresses questions (2)

Student body president says students in favor of new E.E. Smith school

Other attendees were optimistic about the new school. Student body president Kenneth Williams said students are in favor of the proposed facility because they know they can retain the things that make the school unique, like their colors, their mascot and their school song, while upgrading their learning environment. He pointed out that the school has had four locations in its nearly 100-year history.

“We have the opportunity to move forward to the fifth location of E.E. Smith High School, and we must not miss it,” he said. “The sky is the limit on what we can do.”

'It is my bloodline':E.E. Smith student body president weighs in on school's future

Who makes the final decision about the new E.E. Smith?

Whether E.E. Smith High School moves is up to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, who may vote to approve or deny the new location. The board has not announced when they will put the issue to a vote.

On Jan. 11, school board members voted 5-3 to recommend county commissioners approve a new E.E. Smith on the federal site, which would require the county to enter a lease of the land from the military. The education board sent the formal recommendation to Cumberland County Manager Clarence Grier on Jan. 17.

Is E.E. Smith High really going to be on Fort Liberty? Town hall addresses questions (3)

How big would the new school be, and what students would it serve?

The proposed building is about 255,000 square feet and would serve up to 1,600 students. The school’s 965 current students would all be able to attend the new location; elementary schools and middle schools that feed students to E.E. Smith would remain the same; and students would be added from other high school districts to fill the school, Connelly said.

What would the new building cost and how would it be funded?

Construction of the new building is estimated at $160 million. It would be funded by a combination of county, state and federal funds, Connelly said.

He said the board of commissioners could put a general obligation bond on the November ballot but because those can only happen during presidential election years, it could be 2028 before ground is broken on a new E.E. Smith if the board doesn't take swift action.

Alternatively, he said, a limited obligation bond could be put on the ballot with approval from the Local Government Commission.

The school district has applied for North Carolina Department of Public Instruction grants to fund the new school for the last three years with no success, said Kevin Coleman, the school district's associate superintendent of auxiliary services. The school will continue to apply for such funding, he said.

How long will it take to build the new E.E. Smith?

Construction of the new school on Stryker golf course would take about two years, Coleman said. If one of the other sites is chosen for the new school, the project could take longer due to challenges presented by wetland features, traffic concerns and land acquisition, he said.

Were other sites for the new E.E. Smith site considered?

An outside engineering firm evaluated eight potential sites for the new school, Coleman said, with the Stryker property emerging as the “only viable” option. The other sites were found to have such challenges as safety concerns due to proximity to active railroad tracks; difficulty building around wetland features; traffic considerations; and the acquisition of private property.

The seven other sites were the current location on Seabrook Road; behind Kingdom Impact Global Ministries on Murchison Road; behind Variety Sales and Shekinah Glory Church of Faith and Deliverance on the corner of Shaw Mill and Murchison roads; the current Reid Ross Classical Middle/High School site on Ramsey Street; the corner of Murchison Road and Interstate 295; between Bernadine Street and Shaw Road along Murchison Road; and next to Texas Lake on Honeycutt Road.

Would parents convicted of crimes be allowed on the proposed E.E. Smith site?

Parents and guardians with criminal convictions would be allowed on the proposed E.E. Smith site outside of Fort Liberty, Coleman said, and like county elementary schools William T. Brown and Bill Hefner, which are both on federal sites, there would not be a security checkpoint to enter school property.

The proposed site is outside the Fort Liberty gates, he explained, and parents who have been convicted of crimes would be able to attend parent-teacher conferences, sporting events, award ceremonies and other school functions and pick-up and drop-off their kids.

Where else has E.E. Smith operated?

Named for Fayetteville educator and statesman Ezekiel Ezra Smith, E.E. Smith High School originally opened on the second floor of the Orange Street School in 1927. It moved to Campbell Avenue in 1929, Washington Avenue in 1941 and its current location on Seabrook Road in 1954.

What would happen to Stryker Golf Course?

Col. Mary Ricks, a spokeswoman for the 18th Airborne Corps, said Tuesday that Stryker Golf Course would likely close if E.E. Smith were built on the property. Fort Liberty is also home to Ryder Golf Course inside the gates, she said.

Food, dining and culture reporter Taylor Shook can be reached at or on Facebook. Want weekly food news delivered to your inbox? Sign up for the Fayetteville Foodies newsletter.

Is E.E. Smith High really going to be on Fort Liberty? Town hall addresses questions (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Ouida Strosin DO

Last Updated:

Views: 6596

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (76 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Ouida Strosin DO

Birthday: 1995-04-27

Address: Suite 927 930 Kilback Radial, Candidaville, TN 87795

Phone: +8561498978366

Job: Legacy Manufacturing Specialist

Hobby: Singing, Mountain biking, Water sports, Water sports, Taxidermy, Polo, Pet

Introduction: My name is Ouida Strosin DO, I am a precious, combative, spotless, modern, spotless, beautiful, precious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.