BEAUFORT — A handful of parents shared needs for their schools during a public comment time regarding the 2020-21 budget Tuesday in the County Board of Education meeting room.
With the Marine Science and Technologies Early College High School about to start registration for its third year, MaST parent Clark Johnson appealed to the board to fund the school in its 2020-21 budget.
Given there was a battle last summer over keeping the school open for the 2019-20 academic year, Mr. Johnson said it was time for the board to commit to consistently fund MaST.
“Please consider how you would feel if your children were attending MaST — all of the uncertainty and controversy that has swirled around the school,” Mr. Johnson said. “Please make a commitment to these kids that they and their education are important. Make a commitment to them to stand by your word and allow them to finish what they bravely started. As their performance scores indicate, they are doing their part. Now, please do yours.”
He cited numerous statistics supporting the success of the school, including high test scores and a low per pupil expenditure rate.
MaST, located on the campus of Carteret Community College, offers students a chance to gain high school and college credits simultaneously. The school opened two years ago with 50 freshmen. This year there are 50 freshmen and 50 sophomores, with plans to accept 50 new freshmen for the 2020-21 academic year.
After a lengthy battle between MaST supporters and some board members last summer over funding the school for the 2019-20 school year, the decision was made in July to provide funds and continue the school.
In offering her budget concerns, White Oak Elementary School parent Sarah Stipe Plaut also spoke in support of MaST.
“Because I care deeply about all of our county’s children, I implore you not to use our school’s needs as a scapegoat for closing MaST or for not funding the other needs our students have,” Ms. Plaut said. “There is enough money to fund that school and take care of our needs. If you use our problems to stop funding in other schools, we will not say thank you.”
As for White Oak’s needs, Ms. Plaut cited a need to remedy mold, mildew and moisture problems. She also said there were several restrooms out of order.
Morehead City Manager Ryan Eggleston, a parent of Academically and Intellectually Gifted students, requested funding for additional AIG teachers. He said there were 5.5 teaching positions to cover 17 schools.
“This is not sustainable for the teachers, providing very little value to 1,000 students identified as AIG in our district,” Mr. Eggleston said, adding that he was speaking on behalf of AIG parents.
Mr. Eggleston said he was concerned about the future of the program because of the lack of sustainable local funding.
He asked that three members of the school board meet as an ad hoc committee with AIG parents over the next 30 days to develop a local funding plan for the 2020-21 AIG budget. He said the plan should be acted on publicly at a board meeting no later than April.
He further said that by May, he would like the board to report back during a public meeting “on a multi-year funding approach that by the 2021-22 budget will match, dollar-for-dollar, local funding with the state funding the AIG program receives in Carteret County.”
Croatan High School parent Cara Montford asked that the board concentrate on recruiting more minority teachers.
Following the board meeting, Interim Superintendent Richard Paylor said the comments would be taken into consideration during coming school budget discussions.
The board typically adopts its budget request by the end of March and forwards it to the county manager. He recommends a budget to the county commissioners, who must adopt the county budget request by Tuesday, June 30, the end of the fiscal year.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.