MOREHEAD CITY — The Marine Science and Technologies Early College High School has received $200,000 in state funding for the 2020-21 academic year.
Gov. Roy Cooper, on July 1, signed Senate Bill 816, which included a $1.88 million nonrecurring appropriation for eight state cooperative innovative high schools, including MaST.
In an email Friday, Carteret County Schools Finance Officer Kathy Carswell confirmed the school district has received $200,000 for the 2020-21 fiscal year for MaST, which meets on the campus of Carteret Community College in Morehead City and allows students to earn college and high school credits simultaneously.
The Carteret County Board of Education, citing lack of state funding in June, voted to open the school Monday, Aug. 17 without a freshman class. The board directed the school to concentrate on building up the numbers in the sophomore and junior class, which had fallen below 100 by the end of the 2019-20 academic year.
As of Friday afternoon, school officials had not responded to the News-Times regarding what the state funding would mean for the school.
Some MaST parents, including Robin Andrews Meyer of Harkers Island, say the board should reinstate the freshman class for the 2020-21 year since the funding has come in. Ms. Meyer has written county commissioners, BOE members and state representatives regarding the matter.
In an email to the News-Times Friday, Ms. Meyer, who has a rising sophomore at the school, said, “They should absolutely allow the freshman class in. They have the funding, AND they are struggling with how to handle social distancing due to Covid-19. MaST has renovated and has extra space in preparation for expansion next year. This would actually HELP the school system deal with their overcrowding situation in the western county schools by easing that.”
In letters to school board members and county commissioners, Ms. Meyer said parents were not notified the school had received state funding. She reiterated the freshman class should be allowed to attend in August.
In a response back to Ms. Meyer, BOE Chairperson John McLean said since the state approved a one-time, nonrecurring amount for MaST, “We are trying to prevent this from happening again next year with an additional 50 students.”
Ms. Meyer said that is not an acceptable response.
“Basically after 15 months of stating ‘there’s no money,’ now the school board is saying ‘we only have money for a year in an annual budget.’ Ultimately, all budgets are annual,” she said. “The entire school system runs on an annual budget, as does the county.”
Ms. Meyer also received a response from N.C. Representative Craig Horn, R-Union County, Chairperson of the Education Appropriations Committee, who expressed disappointment Carteret County “has not moved to keep MaST Early College in full operation. We have given the County Board of Ed assurances on funding.”
Rep. Horn further said he was contacting the Carteret County Board of Education, co-chairs of the House Education Appropriations Committee and colleagues in the state Senate “to see what we can do to encourage the Board to reconsider.”
At the June board meeting prior to the state allotment, Ms. Carswell said the county would pick up the cost for funding the principal’s position and six other teachers and staff members. Since that meeting, the school’s principal, DeAnne Rosen, has resigned to accept a curriculum coordinator position at Tiller School, a charter school in Beaufort. As of Friday, no replacement has been named.
In addition to a change in principal and cutting of the freshman class, MaST is being moved from its former location in the Smith Building to a newly renovated second floor of the Bryant Student Center on the CCC campus. The estimated cost of the renovations is $62,500, with the project being funded by county commissioners.
CCC President Dr. Tracy Mancini said Friday she preferred not to comment regarding the MaST funding.
“This remains a Carteret County Public School System and Board of Education matter,” she said in an email.
MaST opened with 50 freshmen in 2018, with the original intent of adding 50 new freshmen each year until the school reached 200 students in grades nine through 12. This will be the third year of the school’s operation.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.