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Commissioners to review plan for replacement of E.E. Smith High School

Changes to county employee health insurance also to be discussed


The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday will consider whether to move forward with a plan to replace the aging E.E. Smith High School.

The presentation by county staff is one of several the board will hear during its monthly agenda-setting session, scheduled for 1 p.m. in the conference room on the fifth floor of the Cumberland County Courthouse.

Other topics include funding for restoration of the Orange Street School and an update on costs of the county employee health insurance plan.

E.E. Smith High School opened at its current location, 1800 Seabrook Road, in 1954.

The Cumberland County Board of Education previously identified the need for a new high school as a priority and recommended land at Honeycutt Road and Parham Boulevard next to Texas Lake. The property is owned by Fort Bragg, which has agreed to lease it to the school system for 50 years.

Because the U.S. Department of Defense does not build high schools in Cumberland County, students from Fort Bragg would attend the new school.

The proposed 254,000-square-foot school would have a capacity for 1,600 students and will cost about $160 million. The estimate was derived by comparing the cost of similar high school construction projects in North Carolina. The board also is evaluating land off Shaw Road to determine if it could meet the requirements.

County administrators are asking the board for guidance on whether to go forward with the proposal. The school system wants the county to front the money.

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Orange Street School construction

In other action, Michael Gibson, director of Fayetteville-Cumberland County Parks & Recreation, will request $350,000 from the county for the Historical Orange Street School Restoration project. The money would be used to buy equipment and supplies for youth and community programming.

Board of Commissioners procedures

Commissioner Michael Boose in February asked county staff to provide a “refresher” course on rules and procedures for the commissioners. Interim County Manager Renee Paschal will make the presentation.

Among the topics to be discussed are open and closed meetings; organization of the board; regular and special meetings; location and broadcasting of meetings; agenda preparations; conduct during debates; and procedural motions that govern debate.

County employee health insurance

Representatives of the county’s health insurance plan will provide renewal options for the board to consider. Some of the options include:

  • Changing the current preferred-provider plan to include a $50 copay for specialist health care providers.
  • Increasing employee contributions for coverage by 11.6%.
  • Changing the pharmacy policy to eliminate higher-cost “wasteful” medications.
  • Implementing a manufacturer coupon assistance program to reduce high-cost specialty medications.
  • Implementing a health management program for chronic conditions.
  • Removing a $1,000 HRA deductible reimbursement benefit.

The recommendations to the county would reduce the overall 2023 cost increase by $938,000.

Board members at the agenda-setting sessions usually decide whether to include staff recommendations on an upcoming agenda. Items approved unanimously by the board are placed on the consent agenda, meaning that board members will automatically vote in favor of those items unless a board member specifically asks for more discussion.

Items that pass on a split vote will be discussed further at an upcoming regular meeting.

Cumberland County, education, E.E. Smith High School, health insurance