Crowd shows up to support Bottoms

White Oak Elementary School Principal Terri Brett praises retiring Superintendent Mat Bottoms as an overflow crowd listens Tuesday during the County Board of Education meeting. (Cheryl Burke photo)

Editor's note: This article was last updated Dec. 5 at 6:50 p.m. 

BEAUFORT — After a closed session Tuesday, the County Board of Education announced that Assistant Superintendent Richard Paylor will serve as interim superintendent.

Assistant Superintendent Blair Propst will share duties with Mr. Paylor until a replacement is found for Superintendent Mat Bottoms, who will retire effective Tuesday, Dec. 31.

Mr. Paylor and Mr. Propst will each receive $3,000 per month in addition to their regular salary.

The board also authorized attorney Neil Whitford to retain the N.C. School Boards Association to conduct the superintendent search. Mr. Whitford said the estimated cost would be $26,000.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Mr. Whitford said the funds for the search would come out of the superintendent’s salary that won’t be spent over the next several months.

“The goal is to have the new superintendent in place by the beginning of the new fiscal year on (Wednesday) July 1,” Mr. Whitford said. “The School Boards Association helped conduct the searches for the last two superintendents and they do a good job.”

The announcements came following a late closed session at the end of a lengthy school board meeting, during which an overflow crowd praised Mr. Bottoms for his 39 years of service and appealed to the board to keep political agendas out of future decisions.

Of the 17 speakers, many asked the board to think carefully when picking the replacement for Mr. Bottoms, who announced his retirement Nov. 21. In a subsequent email to his employees, he cited politics at the county and state level as one reason he was stepping down.

A drop-in reception to honor Mr. Bottoms will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday in the school system’s central office on Safrit Drive. The reception is open to the public. A short program and presentation will take place at 5 p.m.

As for the Tuesday night meeting, speakers urged board members to leave party affiliations behind when acting on behalf of county students.

Speaker Katie Statler, a Newport Middle School advisory council member, told the board, “We wanted to hear new ideas you could bring to the board, all questions pertaining to education.  No one asked your party affiliation — how Republican or how Democratic you were. Those fundamental pillars you shared your thoughts on are what people expect to be at front and center of the board of education. That is what we want back. We want a cohesive board.”

Marine Science and Technology Early College High School parent Andrea Beasley, daughter of News-Times publisher Lockwood Phillips, also appealed to the board to keep politics out of its decisions, claiming special interests drove Mr. Bottoms to retire.

“Many of us know there is more to this retirement than meets the eye and I’m so sorry that this is the treatment you’ve (Mr. Bottoms) received for standing up and doing what is right for our schools,” Ms. Beasley, a Republican, said.

She added that because of his treatment, she filed Tuesday as a school board candidate in the District 4 race, which will have her running against Republican BOE member Travis Day in a primary.

After hearing numerous speakers, principals and former school board members, the board took a five-minute recess, then opened up its regular meeting by electing officers for the next year.

Mr. Day, who served as chairman for the past year, nominated John McLean for chairman. His nomination was unanimously approved.

“I’m a little speechless,” Mr. McLean said.

He then handled the nomination and election of the vice chairman.

Clark Jenkins nominated Mr. Day for vice chairman, which Mr. Day declined to accept.

“I’m not interested,” Mr. Day said.

Jake Godwin, a Democrat who served as vice chairman for the past year, nominated himself to serve again. Brittany Wheatly nominated Mr. Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins nominated Ms. Wheatly.

When calling for the vote, Mr. Godwin voted for himself, with the rest not voting.

When the vote was called for Mr. Jenkins, he was elected with four votes. Those voting for Mr. Jenkins were Ms. Wheatly, Mr. Day, member Katherine Chadwick and Mr. McLean.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Bottoms thanked everyone for their support and being willing to take a “risk” on allowing him to be their superintendent.

“I thank the people in our school system for taking that risk,” he said.

Board members then praised Mr. Bottoms for his outstanding service.

Melissa Ehlers, a Republican who was up for reelection for the District 3 seat, apologized to Mr. Bottoms for the board’s treatment of him, closing by announcing she would not seek reelection. Her announcement was met with gasps from some in the audience.

“This board has been led into mistakes that have cost the people we serve their time, their peace and their treasure,” Ms. Ehlers said as she fought back tears. “These mistakes have further led to the premature resignation of our superintendent, Mr. Mat Bottoms. But past mistakes do not dictate the future path we can take if we decide, tonight, here and now, to work together … to maintain our independence and to find the common ground, for the common good, which has brought this school district to the pinnacle of success in this state.”

Ms. Ehlers further urged someone to seek her seat.

“It is my sincere hope that this creates an opportunity for someone who respects the integrity of the process and the premier importance of this board in the future success of our county’s children,” she said.

Mr. Day, who filed for reelection Monday, said he understood “the frustration among many with the way the board of education is currently elected. But our board does not control this election process. Regardless, we are democratically elected by the citizens of Carteret County, and we represent the will of the people. We will do our best to serve their interests as well as the interests of our students.”

He further thanked Mr. Bottoms for his dedication to the students of the county.

“We are optimistic about the opportunity we now have to search out a new superintendent who can continue the legacy in which Mat has played such a big role,” Mr. Day said.

Mr. McLean thanked Mr. Bottoms, but added, “This does not feel like a retirement, when you end with a sigh of relief. I want to apologize for not being a better support for you. I know you have a lot left in you.”

The board then adjourned into closed session to consider three matters, one of them selecting an interim superintendent. The other two matters dealt with a student disciplinary situation and a matter of attorney/client privilege. After the closed session, the board also adopted a resolution regarding the electoral district boundaries for school board members.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 253; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

Previous report

BEAUFORT — As an overflow crowd filled the County Board of Education meeting room Tuesday, 17 speakers praised retiring Superintendent Mat Bottoms for his 39 years of service and appealed to board members to keep political agendas out of future decisions.

Many also asked the board to think carefully when picking the replacement for Mr. Bottoms, who will retire effective Tuesday, Dec. 31. Mr. Bottoms announced his retirement Nov. 21 and, in a subsequent email to his employees, cited politics at the county and state level as one reason he was stepping down.

After the board came out of closed session late Tuesday, the panel unanimously selected Assistant Superintendent Richard Paylor to serve as official interim superintendent, while Assistant Superintendent Blair Propst shares duties of the role until a replacement for Mr. Bottoms can be found. Each will receive $3,000 per month for taking the duties in addition to their regular salary. 

Earlier in the evening during the board's open session, speakers urged board members to leave party affiliations behind when acting on behalf of county students. 

Speaker Katie Statler, a Newport Middle School advisory council member, told the board, “We wanted to hear new ideas you could bring to the board, all questions pertaining to education.  No one asked your party affiliation — how Republican or how Democratic you were. Those fundamental pillars you shared your thoughts on are what people expect to be at front and center of the board of education. That is what we want back. We want a cohesive board.”

Marine Science and Technology Early College High School parent Andrea Beasley, daughter of News-Times publisher Lockwood Phillips, also appealed to the board to keep politics out of their decisions, claiming special interests drove Mr. Bottoms to retire.

“Many of us know there is more to this retirement than meets the eye and I’m so sorry that this is the treatment you’ve (Mr. Bottoms) received for standing up and doing what is right for our schools,” Ms. Beasley, a Republican, said.

She added that because of his treatment, she filed Tuesday as a school board candidate in the District 4 race, which will have her running against Republican Board of Education member Travis Day in a primary.

After hearing numerous speakers, principals and former school board members, the board opened up their regular meeting by electing officers for the next year.

Mr. Day, who served as chairman for the past year, nominated John McLean for chairman. His nomination was unanimously approved.

Mr. McLean then handled the nomination and election of the vice chairman.

Jake Godwin, a Democrat who served as vice chairman for the past year, nominated himself to serve again. Brittany Wheatly nominated Clark Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins nominated Ms. Wheatly.

When calling for the vote, Mr. Godwin voted for himself, with the rest not voting.

When the vote was called for Mr. Jenkins, he was elected with four votes. Those voting for Mr. Jenkins were Ms. Wheatly, Mr. Day, Katherine Chadwick and Mr. McLean.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Bottoms thanked everyone for their support and being willing to take a “risk” on allowing him to be their superintendent.

“I thank the people in our school system for taking that risk,” he said.

Board members then praised Mr. Bottoms for his outstanding service.

Melissa Ehlers, a Republican who was up for reelection for the District 3 seat, also apologized to Mr. Bottoms for the board’s treatment of him, closing by announcing she would not seek reelection.

“This board has been led into mistakes that have cost the people we serve their time, their peace and their treasure,” Ms. Ehlers said. “These mistakes have further led to the premature resignation of our superintendent, Mr. Mat Bottoms. But past mistakes do not dictate the future path we can take if we decide, tonight, here and now, to work together … to maintain our independence and to find the common ground, for the common good, which has brought this school district to the pinnacle of success in this state.”

Ms. Ehlers further urged someone to seek her seat.

“It is my sincere hope that this creates an opportunity for someone who respects the integrity of the process and the premier importance of this board in the future success of our county’s children,” she said.

Mr. Day, who filed for reelection Monday, said he understood “the frustration among many with the way the board of education is currently elected. But our board does not control this election process. Regardless, we are democratically elected by the citizens of Carteret County, and we represent the will of the people. We will do our best to serve their interests as well as the interests of our students.”

He further thanked Mr. Bottoms for his dedication to the students of the county.

“We are optimistic about the opportunity we now have to search out a new superintendent who can continue the legacy in which Mat has played such a big role,” Mr. Day said.

Mr. McLean also thanked Mr. Bottoms, but added, “This does not feel like a retirement, when you end with a sigh of relief. I want to apologize for not being a better support for you. I know you have a lot left in you.”

The board then adjourned into closed session to consider three matters, one of them selecting an interim superintendent to serve while the search for a new superintendent is taking place. The other two matters dealt with a student disciplinary situation and a matter of attorney/client privilege. After the closed session, the board took action selecting the interim superintendents.

 

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

Previous report

BEAUFORT — As an overflow crowd filled the County Board of Education meeting room Tuesday, 17 speakers praised retiring Superintendent Mat Bottoms for his 39 years of service and appealed to board members to keep political agendas out of future decisions.

Many also asked the board to think carefully when picking the replacement for Mr. Bottoms, who will retire effective Tuesday, Dec. 31. Mr. Bottoms announced his retirement Nov. 21 and, in a subsequent email to his employees, cited politics at the county and state level as one reason he was stepping down.

After the board came out of closed session late Tuesday, the panel unanimously selected assistant superintendents Richard Paylor and Blair Propst to serve as co-interim superintendents until a replacement for Mr. Bottoms can be found. According to officials, Mr. Paylor will serve as the lead and sign official documents on behalf of the school system. 

Earlier in the evening during the board's open session, speakers urged board members to leave party affiliations behind when acting on behalf of county students. 

Speaker Katie Statler, a Newport Middle School advisory council member, told the board, “We wanted to hear new ideas you could bring to the board, all questions pertaining to education.  No one asked your party affiliation — how Republican or how Democratic you were. Those fundamental pillars you shared your thoughts on are what people expect to be at front and center of the board of education. That is what we want back. We want a cohesive board.”

Marine Science and Technology Early College High School parent Andrea Beasley, daughter of News-Times publisher Lockwood Phillips, also appealed to the board to keep politics out of their decisions, claiming special interests drove Mr. Bottoms to retire.

“Many of us know there is more to this retirement than meets the eye and I’m so sorry that this is the treatment you’ve (Mr. Bottoms) received for standing up and doing what is right for our schools,” Ms. Beasley, a Republican, said.

She added that because of his treatment, she filed Tuesday as a school board candidate in the District 4 race, which will have her running against Republican Board of Education member Travis Day in a primary.

After hearing numerous speakers, principals and former school board members, the board opened up their regular meeting by electing officers for the next year.

Mr. Day, who served as chairman for the past year, nominated John McLean for chairman. His nomination was unanimously approved.

Mr. McLean then handled the nomination and election of the vice chairman.

Jake Godwin, a Democrat who served as vice chairman for the past year, nominated himself to serve again. Brittany Wheatly nominated Clark Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins nominated Ms. Wheatly.

When calling for the vote, Mr. Godwin voted for himself, with the rest not voting.

When the vote was called for Mr. Jenkins, he was elected with four votes. Those voting for Mr. Jenkins were Ms. Wheatly, Mr. Day, Katherine Chadwick and Mr. McLean.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Bottoms thanked everyone for their support and being willing to take a “risk” on allowing him to be their superintendent.

“I thank the people in our school system for taking that risk,” he said.

Board members then praised Mr. Bottoms for his outstanding service.

Melissa Ehlers, a Republican who was up for reelection for the District 3 seat, also apologized to Mr. Bottoms for the board’s treatment of him, closing by announcing she would not seek reelection.

“This board has been led into mistakes that have cost the people we serve their time, their peace and their treasure,” Ms. Ehlers said. “These mistakes have further led to the premature resignation of our superintendent, Mr. Mat Bottoms. But past mistakes do not dictate the future path we can take if we decide, tonight, here and now, to work together … to maintain our independence and to find the common ground, for the common good, which has brought this school district to the pinnacle of success in this state.”

Ms. Ehlers further urged someone to seek her seat.

“It is my sincere hope that this creates an opportunity for someone who respects the integrity of the process and the premier importance of this board in the future success of our county’s children,” she said.

Mr. Day, who filed for reelection Monday, said he understood “the frustration among many with the way the board of education is currently elected. But our board does not control this election process. Regardless, we are democratically elected by the citizens of Carteret County, and we represent the will of the people. We will do our best to serve their interests as well as the interests of our students.”

He further thanked Mr. Bottoms for his dedication to the students of the county.

“We are optimistic about the opportunity we now have to search out a new superintendent who can continue the legacy in which Mat has played such a big role,” Mr. Day said.

Mr. McLean also thanked Mr. Bottoms, but added, “This does not feel like a retirement, when you end with a sigh of relief. I want to apologize for not being a better support for you. I know you have a lot left in you.”

The board then adjourned into closed session to consider three matters, one of them selecting an interim superintendent to serve while the search for a new superintendent is taking place. The other two matters dealt with a student disciplinary situation and a matter of attorney/client privilege. After the closed session, the board took action selecting the interim superintendents.

 

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

 

Previous report

BEAUFORT — As an overflow crowd filled the County Board of Education meeting room Tuesday, 17 speakers praised retiring Superintendent Mat Bottoms for his 39 years of service and appealed to board members to keep political agendas out of future decisions.

Many also asked the board to think carefully when picking the replacement for Mr. Bottoms, who will retire effective Tuesday, Dec. 31. Mr. Bottoms announced his retirement Nov. 21 and, in a subsequent email to his employees, cited politics at the county and state level as one reason he was stepping down.

Speaker Katie Statler, a Newport Middle School advisory council member, told the board, “We wanted to hear new ideas you could bring to the board, all questions pertaining to education.  No one asked your party affiliation — how Republican or how Democratic you were. Those fundamental pillars you shared your thoughts on are what people expect to be at front and center of the board of education. That is what we want back. We want a cohesive board.”

Marine Science and Technology Early College High School parent Andrea Beasley, daughter of News-Times publisher Lockwood Phillips, also appealed to the board to keep politics out of their decisions, claiming special interests drove Mr. Bottoms to retire.

“Many of us know there is more to this retirement than meets the eye and I’m so sorry that this is the treatment you’ve (Mr. Bottoms) received for standing up and doing what is right for our schools,” Ms. Beasley, a Republican, said.

She added that because of his treatment, she filed Tuesday as a school board candidate in the District 4 race, which will have her running against Republican Board of Education member Travis Day in a primary.

After hearing numerous speakers, principals and former school board members, the board opened up their regular meeting by electing officers for the next year.

Mr. Day, who served as chairman for the past year, nominated John McLean for chairman. His nomination was unanimously approved.

Mr. McLean then handled the nomination and election of the vice chairman.

Jake Godwin, a Democrat who served as vice chairman for the past year, nominated himself to serve again. Brittany Wheatly nominated Clark Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins nominated Ms. Wheatly.

When calling for the vote, Mr. Godwin voted for himself, with the rest not voting.

When the vote was called for Mr. Jenkins, he was elected with four votes. Those voting for Mr. Jenkins were Ms. Wheatly, Mr. Day, Katherine Chadwick and Mr. McLean.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Bottoms thanked everyone for their support and being willing to take a “risk” on allowing him to be their superintendent.

“I thank the people in our school system for taking that risk,” he said.

Board members then praised Mr. Bottoms for his outstanding service.

Melissa Ehlers, a Republican who was up for reelection for the District 3 seat, also apologized to Mr. Bottoms for the board’s treatment of him, closing by announcing she would not seek reelection.

“This board has been led into mistakes that have cost the people we serve their time, their peace and their treasure,” Ms. Ehlers said. “These mistakes have further led to the premature resignation of our superintendent, Mr. Mat Bottoms. But past mistakes do not dictate the future path we can take if we decide, tonight, here and now, to work together … to maintain our independence and to find the common ground, for the common good, which has brought this school district to the pinnacle of success in this state.”

Ms. Ehlers further urged someone to seek her seat.

“It is my sincere hope that this creates an opportunity for someone who respects the integrity of the process and the premier importance of this board in the future success of our county’s children,” she said.

Mr. Day, who filed for reelection Monday, said he understood “the frustration among many with the way the board of education is currently elected. But our board does not control this election process. Regardless, we are democratically elected by the citizens of Carteret County, and we represent the will of the people. We will do our best to serve their interests as well as the interests of our students.”

He further thanked Mr. Bottoms for his dedication to the students of the county.

“We are optimistic about the opportunity we now have to search out a new superintendent who can continue the legacy in which Mat has played such a big role,” Mr. Day said.

Mr. McLean also thanked Mr. Bottoms, but added, “This does not feel like a retirement, when you end with a sigh of relief. I want to apologize for not being a better support for you. I know you have a lot left in you.”

The board then adjourned into closed session to consider three matters, one of them selecting an interim superintendent to serve while the search for a new superintendent is taking place. The other two matters dealt with a student disciplinary situation and a matter of attorney/client privilege.

Board attorney Neil Whitford said he expected a long closed session. No decision on an interim has been announced.

 

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

(2) comments

David Collins

Just how are you going to keep politics out of the schools when our whole public school system, government schools, is nothing but politics. A method to indoctrinate from K thru Graduate School and it shows in the quality of our illiterate graduate snowflakes. Pitiful!

DeadBolt

Too true, David.

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