MaST goes to legislature

Marine trades and boat manufacturing, such as this yacht being worked on Thursday at Carteret Community College, would be a large part of Marine Science and Technology Early College High School, which could open this fall after receiving approval Friday by the State Board of Community Colleges. The program will be up for final approval this spring by the N.C. General Assembly. (Cheryl Burke photo)

RALEIGH — An effort to open an early college high school this fall on the campus of Carteret Community College in Morehead City got one step closer to reality Friday.

The State Board of Community Colleges, during its meeting in Raleigh, approved the application for the Marine Science and Technology (MaST) Early College High School.

Now, it’s on to the General Assembly, which must give final approval during its upcoming budget session in order for the school to open in time for the fall semester.

The State Board of Education approved the proposal earlier this year.

In September, the County Board of Education and CCC Board of Trustees applied for a grant to open MaST. The school, a partnership between the school system and CCC, would offer a pathway for students to earn associates degrees in marine science and maritime trades.

Officials at CCC and the county school system said Friday they were happy to clear the latest hurdle.

“The college is delighted to be one step closer in the approval process for the Marine Sciences and Technology Early College High School,” stated CCC vice president Tracy Mancini in an email statement. “We are proud of the collaboration between our team and Carteret County Public Schools to identify and pursue new opportunities for students to earn credentials for careers and transfer.”

Carteret County Schools Superintendent Mat Bottoms agreed.

“We are glad that the MaST application has been approved by the State Board of Community Colleges,” he said. “The school system’s staff continues to work diligently with the community college to prepare for the next level of approvals.”

The County Commission has endorsed the school as well. In preparation for new programming at CCC, including the early college high school, commissioners awarded the college an additional $262,000 in January for facility and infrastructure upgrades.

The largest chunk of the funding, nearly $97,000, will be spent renovating the Michael J. Smith Building for high school students, should the early high school get the nod from the General Assembly. If not approved, CCC will use the space for regular college classes.

Upon final approval, the college will receive a five-year grant to start up MaST. The grant would provide $500,000 the first year, $350,000 the second year and $250,000 each of the last three years.

Estimated cost for the first year of the high school’s operation is $936,750, with $500,000 coming from the grant and the rest from local and state appropriations.

Estimated operational costs by the fifth year is $2.4 million, with $250,000 coming in state grant funds, $1.49 million in state general funds and $690,750 in local funds. The school system and college would have to totally fund the program after the fifth year.

The school district would fund personnel for the school, including a principal, guidance counselor and four teachers to teach core high school academic subjects. The students would be merged into college classes for other courses. The district has a committee working on personnel, and if approved, the principal of the school will be DeAnne Rosen, currently principal of Beaufort Elementary School.

All eligible middle- and high-school students in the county may apply for admission. The eligibility requirements are: students at risk of dropping out of high school, students with parents who did not continue education beyond high school and high school students who would benefit from accelerated academic instruction.

The school system is planning to hold information sessions in March for students and parents.

If approved, the school would open with 50 freshmen the first year, 100 freshmen and sophomores the second year, 150 freshmen through juniors the third year and 200 freshmen through seniors the fourth year. A fifth year would be provided for students needing an additional year to graduate.

High school students could pursue diplomas or certificates in composite boat manufacturing, marine services, marine propulsion systems and Yamaha and ABYC industry certifications. They could also pursue associate’s degrees in aquaculture technology and other marine-related programs.

The program would offer two tracks: those wanting to pursue an associate’s degree and transfer to a four-year university, and those wanting to get an associate’s in applied science degree or certifications to immediately enter the workforce.

Cheryl Burke contributed to this report from Morehead City.

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

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