Newport, N.C.

June 29, 2019

TO THE EDITOR:

As a small business owner in our county for over 50 years, I am perplexed by the recent decision of our county commissioners and our Board of Education to close a school. Not just any school, but a school that specifically encourages technical training, licenses and degrees. Nationwide, this school model has proven successful in decreasing dropout rates, decreasing student loan debt and increasing much needed skilled workers.

The BOE chairman is using fear and funding to portray that this school is financially an “irresponsible decision.” Their excuses are endless but their ability to cooperate with a large majority of our community, that will do anything to see this school survive, are pitiful.

We have teenagers showing up to Board of Education meetings pleading and begging. We have teenagers sharing story after story about how this school has changed their life. Four of these BOE members decided that they cannot think outside of the box and have not been willing to try. When was the last time any of you as readers saw teenagers at board meetings of any kind begging for more educational opportunities? Why don’t they see this as a win?

Let’s be innovative, let’s be proactive, let’s be Carteret strong as we prepare ALL students to live and work in this beautiful place. Why in the world would you want to move backwards?

BOE members that are proceeding to close this school, don’t let this be your political claim to fame. It will not serve you well — this I can promise you.

Over the past few weeks, I have spoken to many well respected businessmen and women in our community. Quite frankly, they are all scratching their heads and wondering what in the world you are thinking and doing.

This is your job! This is your responsibility! Community members, grandparents, parents, students, teachers, and principals should not have to be fighting this hard. You have time, fix this!

TOMMY MORROW

(21) comments

Osprey

If the BOE voted to keep MaST open 7 teaching positions would be lost. The majority of these students are not high risk as it was with Cape Lookout. Technical training can still be part of the curriculum for these students even if MaSt closes. It just won't be a seperate school. The last time children came in numbers to BOE meetings Ehlers and McLean voted to consolidate Atlantic & Harker's Island. Perhaps they should be the ones labeled as ones who cannot see outside the box. By supporting MaST you are either supporting losing teaching positions or advocating a tax increase to fund the shortfall.

Labmom2

Do your research, teaching positions will not be lost if MaST stays open. High risk students are not what MaST supports. It’s the underserved students and the first generation college goers. Every county in the state of N.C. has early college innovative high schools except one. Two if they close ours. That tells me every one recognizes the need to develop some interest in the trades. When the community college itself offers the funds for the school that says something. MaST students have a lower per dollar spenditure by CCPS than at the traditional high schools. So when do you think our county will be ready for this? 10 more years down the road when we are already behind all other counties? The agenda that was started saying MaST effects ECHS numbers is done. That bluff has been called. The majority of these 100 students affected by this if the MaST closes will be homeschooled. The dollars will not flow into East, West or Croatan. Stop spreading propaganda.

asteedpittman

I don’t think there was actually 7 people that lost their jobs because of the number of retirements. The “7 positions” were basically absorbed by the number of teachers retiring. At least that is what I was told by a central office employee.

Emcobb

This program isn’t just about technical training. These children are working very hard to come away from their high school experience with the determination and skills they need to go out and be productive in our community. These kids have the opportunity to graduate with associates degrees, ready for their last two years of college. Some will also have technical degrees so that they can support themselves while finishing their education. By closing MaST they are trying to put a small bandage on a large wound. A temporary solution to a much bigger funding problem. We need to start thinking long term. MaST and innovative schools like it are the future. This school system will never get ahead if they don’t start thinking about long term solutions. Redistricting and development to help under populated schools. There are also private funding options that haven’t even been explored for MaST. This entire situation has been haphazardly mishandled by the our local government. Our children deserve better. In three short years many of them will be of voting age and I am certain after bearing witness to this debacle, they will be strong voices advocating for change.

Carteretstrong

Tax increase? Teacher positions? Closing mast would lose teaching positions for at least 100 students as well. The budget was allocated for mast for several years already without tax increases or losing the opportunity to hire more teachers. Students are not high risk how? Please explain. Let me answer the way I understand you stated not high risk...All of carteret county students are high risk. No matter where they live or who their parents are. The county has hardly any extra recreational or educational opportunities for our teens. Summer programs through the community college have waitlists since may. Every student was eligible to apply to mast. Status or grades didn't matter at the time. Whoever didnt apply, chose not to. I wonder if you have children or what your involvement is in this matter. It's not just about technical training, but about investing into our families and showing some growth for our county. You are accusing children and parents not "seeing" outside the box. So all these families are dumb or uneducated or ignorant? Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one.

TrueCarteretNative

You realize that if those 100 students return to their district schools they will increase the need for teachers. Right now the college is covering much of the needs at MaST- not the BOE. Our county lost state money because families left after the hurricane and our BOE should have been paying attention- realizing that if students leave so does the money. If the students from MaST don’t return to traditional school because our BOE failed to do their job - then our county will lose far more money than MaST requires to operate. This is horribly irresponsible and I’m shocked that this board represents our local educational system.

PLL

No tax increases when the Community College has graciously agreed to fill in any financial gaps.

CrystalcoastcultureNC

Ummmmm. Why is no one noting the fact that Parents are supporting MaST because CCC has stepped up and said on record that they are willing to support MaST financially and have said they also support the faculty!! MaST also is predicted to be SELF SUFFiCIENT in 3 years. They are in year 2. If the school is closed our county will have WASTED 280,000 of your tax money . Its FUNDED ..let them have the school!

Osprey

All of you MaST supporters sound like Bernie. Lots of unsubstantiated solutions and hollow arguments. These students can still take technical classes at the college through their regular funded high school. The primary difference is the college credits given to them while taking high school classes. Apparently the parents who will homeschool have the skills to teach trades offered by MaST. Not only want FREE college credits but want them given to freshman & sophomores in high school. Better than Bernie !!!!!

Janelle2126

Considering Bernie's state ranks number 3 in education with the 17th highest for income at or above national median, I will take it. He understands investing in our children and helping set them up for success creates better opportunities for them and the community. Meanwhile NC ranks number 39 with an average income of number 12 in the lowest. Most other countries invest in free to low income education including colleges, such as Switzerland and Germany. Completely independent and successful without the worry of education. NC spends 2.3% of their tax revenue on primary education, the lowest of all the states and we wonder why our kids lack the skills necessary. Yes they can take technical classes and dual enrollment classes, but the guidance is limited due to the overflowing school system. So as far as negative effects of MaST, I suppose one can count the fact they graduate two years ahead of the game versus later as a worry for those in fear of losing their jobs to them.

TrueLocalwhoisLIViD

I think it’s pretty important to know that MaST serves students from all walks of life from the underserved, to students who will be first year college students, right up to students whose parents both have Master’s Degrees, and even to homeschooled kids. MaST in its unique approach toward education is a benefit for ALL the students of Carteret County. Research shows that when you bring this diverse population of students together in these types of programs, they all thrive! The students who may not have done well in traditional high school are inspired by classmates who seek higher education as an option. The four year college bond students learn the importance of trade skill jobs and how important they are to keep local economies going. Homeschool children get to have a positive experience in traditional classroom settings which otherwise might not have happened for them in traditional high school. In essence, the lessons they learn from each other are just as important as the scholastics. They walk away with an appreciation of how other students live and the success that could follow ALL of them. The “elephant” in the room seems to be redistricting. ECHS is lost many students to the hurricane (which is so unfortunate) and now they stand to loose 17 more to MaST. So.....in a “normal” setting the BOE would certainly need to entertain moving children from a VERY crowded WCHS to ECHS to correct the overpopulation numbers. Starting with the areas that have easiest access to ECHS. For instance, the students in Mill Creek could go straight up Hwy 101 and the students in Downtown Morehead City could cross straight over the bridge. Problem solved. West is busting at the seams and ECHS gets more $$$$ per student. So I ask you Mr Day, are you ready to send your children to ECHS? You live in an area that could easily redistrict to ECHS. As an elected official of the school system you are here to serve the citizens of this county EVEN If some of necessary decisions directly impact you. It’s a plausible idea and would certainly smooth some of the tensions ECHS has over loosing students. If we did this. MaST could continue to serve our county and positively impact our future workers and leaders. WCHS teachers could better provide their excellent education under smaller class sizes, and ECHS could gain the students and revenue that the Principal (well, interestingly enough she resigned yesterday) so admittedly said they needed. To all the BOE members. Sitting on an board for which you were elected by the citizens you’ve sworn to serve is not a black and white position. You have one job: to make sound, educated, unbiased, and morally correct decisions that best fit the needs of this community. It’s not being done. Period. Put your personal agendas aside and do what’s right for the Citizens and students of Carteret County. However, if you continue like this I Wouldn’t get comfortable for that seat next year.

(Edited by staff.)

dc

Why would decision makers favor 50, 100 or 200 students over the education of ALL the students? Didn't Bernie or one of the socialist deep thinkers say their "free" education would be paid for by billionaires? Who was one of the billionaires who got the ECHS concept going? Where have all the money and promises gone that got it started? What happened to NC New Schools Project? Somebody has to foot the bill for "free" education. Those who normally pay their way have paid for their own and others "free BASIC" (emphasis added) education which is mandated by general statute and probably much more than basics. Most parents whether they can afford it or not want their children to get all the education they can get. Nothing wrong with that but somebody has to pay for it.

DeadBolt

Smells like a bunch of sour grapes just got squeezed! Hey, here is a small tid bit of info that you folks may want to wrap your thoughts around, THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT YOUR DADDY! They, 'GOVERNMENT AS A WHOLE' needs to get out of the education business altogether, but........... this is what you get when you decide to expand bad business. Learn to think for yourself. However, here in America....... you have additional school options handy to you, so best just get creative! [yawn] (what a wild concept).

Carteretcountymom

“Osprey”, my child is a student at MaST. He will be homeschooled if the program closes primarily because the honors classes that he should be in are now full. I REFUSE to dumb my child down because the board decided too late in the game to pull this little stunt. If you think for one minute that there is no hidden agenda to the closing of this school sir/ma’am, I fell as though you have not done enough research. I respect your opinion but please do not assume my child is looking for a free education as he does not “need” it. Thank you.

NC-Native-Son

For some reason, the Carteret County republicans want to keep everyone as dumb as they are. Most counties in North Carolina have early college high schools no matter which party is in control. The prosperous counties run by republicans are using their early college high schools and community colleges as a recruiting tool for more industry. Judging by what we have here I think that our county leaders have an economic plan that centers on uneducated drug addicts and menial workers and their is really no great need to invest in educating "those people".

Osprey

Seems that folks don't realize that CCC is a publicly funded institution. If they pay we pay-in the form of taxes.

dc

This county has one of the better school systems in the state. To say those we smart folks have elected haven't done a decent job overall is donkey poop. If we have one of the better school systems including a good community college and by some accounts can't attract "industry" how is a magical ECHS going to suddenly change that? It all comes back to being fair to ALL our students versus favoring a few.

(Edited by staff.)

Osprey

Carteret strong guess you have an opinion too ! It's great when name calling is your strongest argument. Woooooo!!!!!

Osprey

Please explain how giving students both high school & college credits for the same class does not dilute the higher education standards ? Most people myself included completed 4 years of high school classes and 120+/- college credits to earn a degree. If someone can do it in 6 years without double credit great. Go ahead and homeschool. bet that way your kid can get high school done in a year and college in another 2. Might earn BS degree before he/she can drive and Masters by their 17th birthday.

David Collins

Good to see all the comments and have read each and every one. Just one or two or three questions. What types of industry are you hoping to attract? What types of industry would be willing to jump through the environmental maze that would be erected to keep this area {pristine} and pay a {living} wage and upward mobility ? Does this industry even exist ?

dc

Whether an "industry" or just some risk-taking enterpreneurs it exist and has for a long time. Family of man after WWII started trout farm in mountains and guess it's still active. All types of aquaculture/mariculture "seafood" farming being tried around the state and not just coastal according to Sea Grant and other websites. Education "industry" is obviously involved. Question for education "industry" in this discussion is which is more important and wisest expenditure of limited monetary resources ALL of our traditional HS students benefit with small pieces of pie or give all the pie to a FEW students. You can read about how the ECHS concept came about. TX probably leads the charge since its conception/inception circa 2003/04. If memories serves one of its leading districts has ACT score averages in the 17 range after years into the concept. Believe our 3 high schools are 20 or above having never tried it. Article about study done by VA university about ECHS's in NC concluded scores of traditional HS compared to ECHS students in the pipeline scores showed ECHS nil to negative in science and slightly higher in math. Shouldn't the education "industry" be laser focused on spending its finite resources on improving HS math for ALL students as opposed to going off the main education highway on a side road paved with "seed" money provided by a billionaire's foundation that quickly runs out leaving the taxpayer with unknown future obligations and burdens?

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.