Council, board pave way for school construction

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 28, 2003


LULING – The way is clear to begin construction of Raymond K. Smith Middle School after the St. Charles Parish Council dedicated the sole access roadway at this week’s meeting and the School Board voted to go out for construction bids.

At the council meeting, attorney Louis Authement reported an agreement was reached with Union Pacific Railroad on the crossing at Sugarland Parkway, after landowner Edward Dufresne Jr. agreed to give up two other private rail crossings on his property. The road is between the School Board central office and the West Bank Bridge Park. The new school will be located beyond the tracks in what is now a portion of Esperanza Plantation’s sugar cane fields. The council voted to approve the act of dedication on the two-lane road.

On Wednesday night, the School Board approved construction bid advertisements for the new middle school. Plans call for an 82,000-square-foot building on the 30-acre site and expected to cost $11 million to build. It is planned to open in fall 2004, and will replace Eual J. Landry Sr. Middle School, which facility is planned to house the court school.

Smith, the namesake for the new middle school, died in 1993 at the age of 78. He was one of the nine children of Joseph and Laura Smith of Hahnville, who launched Smith’s Grocery in 1921. The building itself was built in 1823. Over the years it had been a hotel and drug store, as well as a grocery.

Smith came up through the tiny, one-room schoolhouses for black children in pre-integration St. Charles Parish, finally completing eighth grade. With relatives in New Orleans, he was able to complete his education through McDonough 35 High School and Xavier University.

Returning to St. Charles Parish, Smith became principal of the Luling Colored School in 1932, where he taught for many years, then the Hahnville Colored School, which expanded as children grew up to become George Washington Carver High School.

The facility is now Carver Elementary.

In 1973, Smith was promoted to assistant superintendent, which position he retained until retirement, and earned a doctorate.