Editor's note: This article was last updated June 27 at 9:17 p.m.

BEAUFORT — One week after voting to pull funds from the Marine Science and Technologies Early College High School to save other teaching positions, the County Board of Education voted Thursday to go through a formal process to close the school.

During a special meeting Thursday in the school system’s central office, Neil Whitford, the board’s attorney, informed the panel it needs to go through the proper procedures for closing a state public school.

“Even though many of you have studied MaST in detail, and all of you have heard from various members of the MaST community and the public, the formal closure process will include a study, a public hearing and a final vote,” Mr. Whitford said.

To expedite matters, Mr. Whitford recommended the school board appoint a committee and empower it to take all steps necessary for a final school board vote on closure.

“The committee, in its discretion, should be able to call on all school administrative resources as needed for relevant information,” Mr. Whitford said. “I am confident the committee can complete its study in time for a public hearing and final vote later in July or at the August meeting.”

Based on the recommendation from Mr. Whitford, board member Clark Jenkins moved “the curriculum, finance and technology work group be constituted as a committee to take all steps necessary under the state statute for school closure relating to MaST prior to a final school board vote on the issue. The committee, in its discretion, will have the authority to call on all school administrative personnel as needed for relevant information.”

Member Kathryn Chadwick seconded the motion, which passed in a 5-0 vote, with board members Melissa Ehlers and Jake Godwin absent for the vote. Board member Brittany Wheatly attended via a telephone conference call.

Members of the curriculum, finance and technology work group that will serve on the committee are board Chairman Travis Day, John McLean and Ms. Wheatly.

The boardroom was packed with MaST parents and students Thursday. Following the meeting, parent Lindsay Webb of Emerald Isle said she is hopeful things will turn around and the school can remain open.

“Technically, the school is still open because they didn’t follow proper procedures to close it,” Ms. Webb said.

She noted parents of rising sophomores at the school, which opened last academic year, have formed committees to fight for their school.

“We are fighting for the future of our students,” she said. “We haven’t heard from anyone (with the school system) since they voted last week to close the school. Even if our students go back in the traditional high schools, they will be at a disadvantage because many of the (Advanced Placement) classes, sports, band and other courses are already filled up for the new school year. That means our kids wouldn’t have the same chances to earn the same high school credits as other kids.”

She added that the most recent version of the new state budget includes funds for early college high schools, although that budget is likely to be vetoed by the governor.

In a telephone interview following the meeting, Mr. Day said, “We don’t want to give anyone false hope. Even if state funding were available, it’s too late in the process to keep the school open. It’s just not feasible. We have to hire teachers and personnel. We just want to make sure that all legal procedures are followed in closing the school.”

Mr. Day added that although the state General Assembly has put funds back in the budget for early college high schools, he anticipates the governor will veto the budget.

“If the governor vetoes, we revert back to last year’s budget, which means no funding (for MaST),” he said.

Carteret Community College President Dr. John Hauser, however, in an email statement sent Thursday, said it’s not too late to keep MaST, which is on the CCC campus, open.

“Carteret Community College is prepared to continue operation of the MaST Early College High School in partnership with Carteret County Public Schools,” Dr. Hauser said. “It is not too late in the process for MaST to continue forward for the 2019-2020 academic year.

“We are not unlike any of the 117 Early Colleges on community college campuses in North Carolina,” he continued. “Every county, public school system, and community college with Early College high schools in NC are in the same boat in regard to State funding.”

Dr. Hauser added that in a statewide N.C. Community College System Presidents conference call Thursday, the NCCCS reminded all colleges that the governor’s budget and the compromise budget from the General Assembly both include full, five-year funding for early colleges.

Dr. Hauser continued, “between the Board of Commissioners initial investment of $262,000 last year to renovate the Smith Building (the current location of MaST), the College’s commitment of supplemental funding, and the General Assembly including early college funding for the next five years are all examples of the confidence placed with the MaST Early College High School. College schedules are set, MaST students are registered for fall courses, and our faculty/staff are prepared to move forward.”

Dr. Hauser also encouraged the school board to utilize numerous studies and research that have been done on the success of early college high schools in making their final decision.

“In the coming weeks, the College will work closely with the Carteret County Public School System as we support the continuation of the MaST Early College High School,” Dr. Hauser said.

However, during the school board meeting, Mr. McLean cautioned parents to not get their hopes up.

“We don’t want to provide false hope. We will hold another public hearing and a committee will look at it, but what we’re doing is voting to follow the correct procedures,” Mr. McLean said.

The closure of MaST has been controversial. The school board voted June 20 in a split vote of 4-3 to not use local funds to keep the school open, but to instead use those funds to save seven teaching positions that may be lost due to federal and state funding cuts.

The school board’s action was based on a recommendation by county commissioners, during their June 17 meeting, that the school board use $185,000 in county funds previously earmarked for MaST to save the positions.

Commissioners said they weren’t comfortable funding the second year of the high school because of concerns the state legislature might not pass a budget that includes funding for early college high schools.

During the commissioners meeting, Dr. Hauser also affirmed the college was prepared to provide financial and faculty support to keep MaST open. The school allows students to earn high school and college credits at the same time. When students graduate they can have an associate’s degree and high school diploma.

Superintendent Mat Bottoms said if the school closes, students would be reassigned to the high schools in their home districts. School employees would be reassigned to other schools.

MaST was scheduled to open Wednesday, Aug. 7. The school opened last August with 50 freshmen. The next class of 50 new freshmen have already been accepted for the 2019-20 school year.

Mr. Day said if the MaST closure is finalized, he hopes the school system can use what has happened to help students.

“I want to use this as a motivation for us to try to reach and help the kids that MaST was beneficial for,” he said. “We can look at some innovative programs to help students in our traditional high schools.”

MaST rising sophomore Noah Seinhauser said following Thursday’s meeting he hopes school officials will find a way to keep the school open.

“The fact that it’s not completely over makes me happy,” he said. “If it does close I will be homeschooled.”

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

Previous report

Reporter's note: This article was last updated June 27 at 12:31 p.m. The school board vote June 20 was to divert funds that were used for the Marine Science and Technologies Early College High School to fund other teaching positions. This would cause the closure of MaST. During the meeting Thursday, the board attorney recommended formalizing the closure by going through the process required by state statutes. The headline of this article was changed to reflect this.

BEAUFORT — One week after voting to pull funds from the Marine Science and Technologies Early College High School, the County Board of Education voted Thursday to go through a formal process to close the school.

During a special meeting Thursday in the school system’s central office, Neil Whitford, the board’s attorney, informed the panel they need to go through the proper procedures for closing a state public school.

“Even though many of you have studied MaST in detail, and all of you have heard from various members of the MaST community and the public, the formal closure process will include a study, a public hearing and a final vote,” Mr. Whitford said.

To expedite matters, Mr. Whitford recommended the school board appoint a committee and empower it to take all steps necessary for a final school board vote on closure.

“The committee, in its discretion, should be able to call on all school administrative resources as needed for relevant information,” Mr. Whitford said. “I am confident the committee can complete its study in time for a public hearing and final vote later in July or at the August meeting.”

Based on the recommendation from Mr. Whitford, board member Clark Jenkins moved “the curriculum, finance and technology work group be constituted as a committee to take all steps necessary under the state statute for school closure relating to MaST prior to a final school board vote on the issue. The committee, in its discretion, will have the authority to call on all school administrative personnel as needed for relevant information.”

Member Kathryn Chadwick seconded the motion, which passed in a 5-0 vote, with board members Melissa Ehlers and Jake Godwin absent. Board member Brittany Wheatly attended via a telephone conference call.

Members of the curriculum, finance and technology work group that will serve on the committee are board Chairman Travis Day, John McLean and Brittany Wheatly.

The board room was packed with MaST parents and students. Following the meeting, parent Lindsay Webb of Emerald Isle said she is hopeful things will be resolved and the school will remain open.

“Technically, the school is still open because they didn’t follow proper procedures to close it,” Ms. Webb said.

She noted parents of rising sophomores at the school, which opened last academic year, have formed parent committees to fight for their school.

“We are fighting for the future of our students,” she said. “We haven’t heard from anyone (with the school system) since they voted last week to close the school. Even if our students go back in the traditional high schools, they will be at a disadvantage because many of the AP classes, sports, band and other courses are already filled up for the new school year. That means our kids wouldn’t have the same chances to earn the same high school credits as other kids.”

However, in a telephone interview following the meeting, Mr. Day said, “We don’t want to give anyone false hope. Even if state funding were available, it’s too late in the process to keep the school open. It’s just not feasible. We have to hire teachers and personnel. We just want to make sure that all legal procedures are followed in closing the school.”

The school board voted June 20 in a split vote of 4-3 to pull funds from the school to use to save teacher positions that may be cut due to federal and state funding cuts. Plus, some board members are concerned about the uncertainty as to whether the final state budget will include funds for the school, which is on the campus of Carteret Community College. The school allows students to earn high school and college credits at the same time.

The issue of keeping the school open has been a hot topic, with county commissioners recommending June 17 that $185,000 in local MaST funds be reassigned to save roughly seven teaching positions at other county schools expected to be lost because of state and federal budget cuts.

Commissioners said they weren’t comfortable funding the second year of the high school because of concerns the state legislature might not pass a budget that includes funding for early college high schools. MaST is one of hundreds of community colleges throughout the state waiting for the governor and state legislators to make their decision.

Superintendent Mat Bottoms said if the school closes students would be reassigned to the high school in their home district. School employees would be reassigned to other schools.

MaST was scheduled to open in mid-August. The school opened last August with 50 freshmen. The next class, 50 new freshmen, have already been accepted for the 2019-20 school year. 

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

 

Previous report

BEAUFORT — One week after voting to pull funds from the Marine Science and Technologies Early College High School, the County Board of Education voted Thursday to go through a formal process to close the school.

During a special meeting Thursday in the school system’s central office, Neil Whitford, the board’s attorney, informed the panel they need to go through the proper procedures for closing a state public school.

“Even though many of you have studied MaST in detail, and all of you have heard from various members of the MaST community and the public, the formal closure process will include a study, a public hearing and a final vote,” Mr. Whitford said.

To expedite matters, Mr. Whitford recommended the school board appoint a committee and empower it to take all steps necessary for a final school board vote on closure.

“The committee, in its discretion, should be able to call on all school administrative resources as needed for relevant information,” Mr. Whitford said. “I am confident the committee can complete its study in time for a public hearing and final vote later in July or at the August meeting.”

Based on the recommendation from Mr. Whitford, board member Clark Jenkins moved “the curriculum, finance and technology work group be constituted as a committee to take all steps necessary under the state statute for school closure relating to MaST prior to a final school board vote on the issue. The committee, in its discretion, will have the authority to call on all school administrative personnel as needed for relevant information.”

Member Kathryn Chadwick seconded the motion, which passed in a 5-0 vote, with board members Melissa Ehlers and Jake Godwin absent. Board member Brittany Wheatly attended via a telephone conference call.

The board room was packed with MaST parents and students. Following the meeting, parent Lindsay Webb of Emerald Isle said she is hopeful things will be resolved and the school will remain open.

“Technically, the school is still open because they didn’t follow proper procedures to close it,” Ms. Webb said.

She noted parents of rising sophomores at the school, which opened last academic year, have formed parent committees to fight for their school.

“We are fighting for the future of our students,” she said. “We haven’t heard from anyone (with the school system) since they voted last week to close the school. Even if our students go back in the traditional high schools, they will be at a disadvantage because many of the AP classes, sports, band and other courses are already filled up for the new school year. That means our kids wouldn’t have the same chances to earn the same high school credits as other kids.”

However, in a telephone interview following the meeting, board Chairman Travis Day said, “We don’t want to give anyone false hope. Even if state funding were available, it’s too late in the process to keep the school open. It’s just not feasible. We have to hire teachers and personnel. We just want to make sure that all legal procedures are followed in closing the school.”

The school board voted June 20 in a split vote of 4-3 to pull funds from the school to use to save teacher positions that may be cut due to federal and state funding cuts. Plus, some board members are concerned about the uncertainty as to whether the final state budget will include funds for the school, which is on the campus of Carteret Community College. The school allows students to earn high school and college credits at the same time.

The issue of keeping the school open has been a hot topic, with county commissioners recommending June 17 that $185,000 in local MaST funds be reassigned to save roughly seven teaching positions at other county schools expected to be lost because of state and federal budget cuts.

Commissioners said they weren’t comfortable funding the second year of the high school because of concerns the state legislature might not pass a budget that includes funding for early college high schools. MaST is one of hundreds of community colleges throughout the state waiting for the governor and state legislators to make their decision.

Superintendent Mat Bottoms said if the school closes students would be reassigned to the high school in their home district. School employees would be reassigned to other schools.

MaST was scheduled to open in mid-August. The school opened last August with 50 freshmen. The next class, 50 new freshmen, have already been accepted for the 2019-20 school year.

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

(6) comments

mtstosea

This is good for the community and the students who are not getting the level of instruction and stimulation they need in "regular" school. Economically, it will reduce the cost some parents have to pay for college, as some classes have already been mastered. These students will have an edge over incoming Freshmen. But what happened to the teachers who were teaching there last year. I ask, because the comment was made about finding teachers for the August term. Surely the money to fund this important school can be found, even if some of it comes out of the Superintendents salary! You should listen to the wishes of the public and parents and strive to have the best school possible for our youth. Too bad the people running this show didn't know how to read the legalities of closing a State school.

Robin Andrews Meyer

They didn't follow follow the proper procedure for closing a school according to the attorney. If you read Mr Day's comments in this article he is still obviously determined to close this school. WHAT AREN'T THEY TELLING US AND WHY??? The state funding issue is resolved, even if the Governor vetos the proposed budget MaST would just revert to last year's budget. And Carteret Community College has already agreed to fund the remaining amount. So why is the Board of Education so determined to take this amazing program away from Carteret County? It's not just the kids that go there that would benefit...the entire county would in the form of jobs, small business and tax revenue! If you have a young child in the Carteret County School system you need to be fighting for this! In the next 3 years this program is going to be taking 200 students and teaching them trades in college transfer, welding, outboard motor certification, boat building, aquaculture, diesel engines AND they are working on building/construction, nursing, and more! All for FREE, not based on academic standings and offered during high school so your kids graduate with a high school diploma AND a 2 year college degree and trade certifications!!! This Early College model is designed to be self supporting as well, it only needs funding for a few years until it completely supports itself. We elected these people to be our voice, but they won't tell us WHY they are making these decisions without following proper channels and doing it without allowing anyone's input. It's WRONG and obviously ILLEGAL.

mtstosea

I totally agree with Robin's statements as she expanded this topic. Now, how do we get the "powers that be" to read our comments?? I guess we could print them out & mail them.....no that infringes on the privacy of the writers, and the newspaper has copyright to anything published. Darn.

Editor's Note: You can print out and mail any story published in the News-Times as long as you attribute it to us, or in the case of a letter to the editor be sure to keep the name that was published with it.

(Edited by staff.)

Osprey

The School Board has been put in a precarious position. They have chosen to pursue the conservative path and use the funds to retain teaching positions throughout the County. The BOE is looking past this year and next realizing there is a very good chance State funding will cease in 2 years. If they take to short sighted approach and funding is not there in 2 years how would that be for 150 children some of which would have completed 3 years to lose the school at that point ? There are still opportunities for technical classes to be taken at the college for most of these students. McClean & Ehlers are not acting in the best interest of the majority of the county student population. Be certain most parents prefer to preserve teaching positions as historically that has always been the number 1 priority. Ehlers has "friends" enrolled is MaST . Her agenda is self serving as usual.

Emcobb

Schools like MaST are the future. If the MaST closure holds, we will be one of 2 counties in the entire state that doesn’t have an Early College High School. Funding is a NON issue. There are private funding options that have been completely dismissed and overlooked. This closure is about avoiding redistricting, it’s like putting a tiny band aid on a large gaping wound. This county needs to look to the future. Short term solutions tend to lead to bigger problems down the road. Development is needed in under populated areas, redistricting to ease overcrowding in some schools and empty seats in others. Closing an innovative, well received school where children are truly thriving, where less money is being spent per pupil, where students have the potential to graduate with not only technical degrees but associate degrees would be like taking 10 steps in the WRONG direction. Wake up Carteret County!!!

DeadBolt

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article232102812.html#storylink=mainstage_card6 The liberal path.

Welcome to the discussion.

As a privately owned web site, we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence, racism, anti-Semitism, or personal/abusive/condescending attacks on other users or goading them. The same applies to trolling, the use of multiple aliases, or just generally being a jerk. Enforcement of this policy is at the sole discretion of the site administrators and repeat offenders may be blocked or permanently banned without warning.