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Cumberland County Board of Education eyes joining federal suit 


The Cumberland County Board of Education will gather at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Central Services Building for its final meeting of the year.

Here are some key items to note from the agenda:

Meta lawsuit

  • As part of its consent agenda, the board will likely vote to become a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against several social media companies, including Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram; Snap Inc., the company that owns Snapchat; ByteDance Ltd., which owns TikTok; and YouTube, co-owned by Google and Alphabet Inc.
  • According to the agenda, the school board will be represented by Ward Black Law of Greensboro, which will receive 25% of any judgment awarded in the suit.
  • The multi-district litigation, filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California on Oct. 10, 2022, encompasses over 140 suits “brought on behalf of school districts and actions filed jointly by over thirty state Attorneys General,” according to Nov. 14 court documents.
  • The suit alleges the social media companies intentionally designed their platforms to be addictive for adolescents and allowed their platforms to be accessible to children under 13 with the goal of bringing in more advertising dollars, according to a March 10 complaint.

E.E. Smith High School applies for grant

  • E.E. Smith High School has applied for a $62 million grant from the N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction to relocate and build a new school.
  • The grant would come from the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund. Schools are only eligible if they are located in a county with an adjusted market value of taxable real property of less than $40 billion. The money comes from the proceeds of the N.C. Education Lottery, according to the grant application.
  • According to the high school’s application, the new site would be 255,000 square feet in size and host up to 1,600 students.
  • “The current E.E. Smith High School facilities are structurally and educationally inadequate,” the application states. “The facility does not meet current building code and ADA requirements. Mechanical and electrical systems are aged, inadequate and inefficient.”
  • According to the application, the school was built in 1953 and has seen nine different additions since then, with the latest classroom addition occurring in 1995. The size of the current facility also does not meet state standards, the application states; E.E. Smith sits on a 27.3-acre site, while DPI recommends a size of 56 acres, according to the application.
  • Officials anticipate construction would begin on April 1, 2026, and finish by June 1, 2028, according to the application.
  • The estimated cost for the project is currently $124.4 million, the application states.
  • According to DPI’s website, Cumberland County would be required to match 25% of the grant, or $15.5 million.

A potential consolidation for J.W. Seabrook and Sunnyside elementary schools?

  • The school system has also applied for a $42 million grant through the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund to consolidate J.W. Seabrook and Sunnyside elementary schools and build an 110,000-square-foot facility that could host up to 700 students. The new building would be located at the current Sunnyside site at 3876 Sunnyside School Road.
  • During construction, students would attend class inside the existing Sunnyside building or in modular classrooms, the application states.
  • Sunnyside was built in 1938 and has had four additions since, most recently in 1957, according to the application; Seabrook was built in 1950 and saw its most recent addition in 2003.
  • At 9.4 acres, Seabrook’s site does not meet DPI standards, which currently recommend a minimum of 13.3 acres.
  • “The condition of both facilities is very poor and their ages are deterrents to student enrollment,” the application says. “Neither facility meets current building code and ADA requirements. Building infrastructure is outdated, classroom space is limited and the facilities are simply inadequate.”
  • Officials believe consolidating the two schools would be more cost-efficient, allowing them to redirect funds to educational programs, hiring more staff and “addressing other critical needs,” the application states.
  • Construction would start April 1, 2026, and finish by June 1, 2028, according to the application.
  • The project is estimated to cost $56 million.
  • According to DPI, Cumberland County would be required to match 25% of the grant, or $10.5 million.

Lexi Solomon can be reached at lsolomon@cityviewnc.com.

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Cumberland schools meta Facebook lawsuit J.W. Seabrook Sunnyside