Morehead City, N.C.

June 21, 2019

TO THE EDITOR:

I sympathize with students who attended MaST last year or who were anticipating being able to attend this coming year. I hope you can understand this situation from the BOE’s perspective, as we are trying to make financially responsible decisions that will best serve our entire school system. Despite the sadness that the closing of MaST may have caused some, we should now have almost a quarter of a million dollars extra (previously allocated for MaST) to cover lost teaching positions across our county. Once we confirm we will be able to cover all salary adjustments (scheduled raises) and mandated state benefit increases for current school employees, funding for the “lost” teaching positions will be assured.

All other considerations aside, from a financial perspective, we would not be able to continue MaST without state funding. And unfortunately, the decision on state funding will likely not be confirmed until well after the school year starts. We could not continue to kick the can down the road. The county commissioners only agreed to fund MaST last year under the assumption of receiving Early College state funding. The state did not fund Early Colleges last year (we had to take money intended for CCC’s aquaculture program just to open MaST), and state funding is uncertain again this year. With this continued uncertainty on Early College funding, the county commissioners did not feel they could commit to continued funding of MaST.

Regardless of the status of state funding for Early College, our school system still faces reduced state and federal funding which resulted in a shortage of funded teaching positions in schools across our county. So in their meeting Monday night, the county commissioners graciously voted to allow us to keep the money originally allocated for MaST, and asked that we instead use it toward funding some of the unfunded teaching positions in our other county schools (positions which would have otherwise been lost). I support and agree with their decision.

Delaying the closing of MaST by a couple of weeks would have only delayed the inevitable, unnecessarily giving MaST supporters false hope. Delaying might have eased the blow, or perhaps continued the pain for longer. Like it or not, we opted for the “pull-off-the-Band Aid quickly approach.”

Without guarantees of both state AND local funding, MaST simply could not remain open. Support for local funding was already gone, and support at the state level has been waning (and likely would not be finalized in two months, much less two weeks).

Redistricting wouldn’t do anything to help pay for the cost of MaST. And we cannot continue a program based on hopes or promises of funding from charities, donations, fundraising, etc. These are not viable funding sources for maintaining a public school. And we also cannot charge tuition to keep the school open. Many MaST students wouldn’t be able to afford to pay tuition, and besides, then we would essentially be creating a private school. (Some people already considered MaST to be somewhat of a publicly funded private school, offering private school advantages for a select few, but paid for by Carteret County taxpayers.)

I would love if we could afford to provide a MaST experience for students across Carteret County. But unfortunately, this just isn’t possible. It is easy to look at the cases of individual students, see the benefits MaST provided these students, and desire to continue helping them.

It is much more difficult to look at the big picture and see the unintended consequences that funding MaST may have on the rest of our school system.

Weighing such items and trying to make rational and equitable decisions on them is one of the toughest tasks we face as a school board.

I’m sorry, but I hope everyone can try to understand why we made the decision we did. And I wish everyone well in their own decisions to determine what schooling options are best for their children and their family.

TRAVIS DAY, Chairman

 Carteret County Board of

Education

(9) comments

Crabpot

An abject explanation that borders on excuses is never a good defense. And, as in always, the devil is in the details. I feel certain they will rise to the surface in due time. A common argument among small towns and communities is that after high school or college, their residents/students leave ... never to return home whether from a lack of jobs, cohesive leadership on a local and state level and, unwavering educational support at every level. This should be emphasized the next time the BOE, commissioners or citizens in general crow ton

Crabpot

(continued) to the contrary. Some of us, anonymous or otherwise, have a stake not only in Carteret County but the continued and progressive education of students that have an interest in returning. To give back locally as entrepreneurs, leaders, educators, business persons etc. This decision will require a stark look and re-evaluation of continued support.

beachmami13

[thumbup]

BaySt

I really don't think you "sympathize" with anyone that supports the MaST program. It was painfully clear you went into that "special" meeting that allowed no public comment with an agenda. You were argumentative, angry, and downright childish. If redistricting won't help this issue, it certainly will help a few others. Diversity in our schools for one. One African American child in all of the Down East Elementary schools is shameful. Those schools sit half empty while schools in the Western portion of Carteret County are busting at the seams. I kept asking myself why were you so upset at this meeting? Why was there a Carteret News Times Article stating that a Board of Education member was asking our legislators not to approve the funding to our county? If we get that money would we have to redistrict? If we redistrict would someone living on the east side of Morehead City maybe be forced to send their children to East Carteret High School instead of West Carteret High? Could that be why a certain Board member was so upset and determined to close that school? Would a Board of Education elected official really hurt their own county by closing a school that could help kids and bring jobs and a tax base in just to promote their own self-interest??? No, of course not!

BaySt

Please go to the National Center For Education Statitics website. According to their website their is 1 African American, 8 Hispanic, and 257 Caucasian students at Smyrna Elementary & Down East Middle School (it's a K-8th grade school). It's public information. You can also see how many students total are in each school.

DeadBolt

Hm, and prey do tell, um, how do any of these folks have a hand in 'where' folks move , or live, to influence your obvious diversity theory????????? You seem to confuse the entire issue, as if it was based on racial prejudice? (as you bring out some statistics, from places you provide no links to, by the way). Please educate us all on the complete list of students ever registered in this program as detailed as you do for an entire district. From day one, till now would be great. (not their names, just their racial status) Then, while you are at it, include the number of racial division in the county for the past 10 years or more by census, as this will shed some light on why there are less or more of a culture then anything, not because of prejudice . I'm sure you have easy access to these figures, everyone has google. Wait, i found it for you, well, here anyone can look. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/carteretcountynorthcarolina

BaySt

Prey tell? I think that says something about your stance more than anything. But ok, I'll play. Here are the links to back it up. If redistricting were to take place, bringing kids downeast from Merrimon would definitely increase the diversity among the students. Bringing kids from Eastern Morehead City to Beaufort would ease overcrowding in the Western county schools. It's something that could be looked at. Closing MaST to avoid redistricting (which is what is happening) is educational gerrymandering. Here are the Downeast demographics as of the 2018 school year which are the most up to date demographics of what is actually going on in our school system, with the links for your clicking pleasure. So if you were PRAYING for me to tell, consider it answered. Smyrna elementary/Downeast Middle: 1 American Indian, 1 African American, 8 Hispanics, 257 Caucasian, 5 other https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/schoolsearch/school_detail.asp?Search=1&SchoolID=370063000258&ID=370063000258 Harkers Island Elementary 1 American Indian, 0 African American, 2 Hispanic, 91 Caucasian, 3 other https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/schoolsearch/school_detail.asp?Search=1&Miles=10&Zip=28589&ID=370063000254 Atlantic Elementary 0 American Indian, 0 African American, 5 Hispanic, 77 Caucasian, 4 Other https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/schoolsearch/school_detail.asp?Search=1&Miles=10&Zip=28520&ID=370063000249

DeadBolt

My STANCE reflects the us census link i provided. Which is in line with the entire alleged racial profiling you have noticed, and it's not up to you where these family's live by way of moving here, or being born here. Lastly, not one of your links has anything to do with this Mast school, period, your on about a low percent of cultures that 'CHOOSE' to live where they live, their not forced one way or another. Heck, why not bus kids in from Raleigh? Why stop there, bring them from the mountain region, lol. Guess there's one born every minute.

DeadBolt

Every High School Principal Should Say This https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeqBbO_jpXk

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