BEAUFORT — The Carteret County Board of Education will consider approval of bids for construction of security walls at five schools during its meeting that will begin at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 in the system’s central office on Safrit Drive.
In addition, the board is expected to make a decision regarding the closure of Marine Science and Technologies Early College High School.
The meeting will be broadcast live on the school district’s YouTube Channel, or residents can attend in person. A public comment time will be offered at the start of the meeting.
Discussion of the walls will come on the heels of a stabbing Thursday morning at Northside High School in Jacksonville, which left one student dead and another in the hospital. A teacher was also injured but was treated at the scene and expected to recover, according to Jacksonville Police Chief Mike Yaniero.
Chief Yaniero reported that a school resource officer responded to the scene 20 seconds after the incident began and staff went into lockdown. He said the student who stabbed the other two students was arrested immediately. Parents were contacted and allowed to pick up their children and take them home following the stabbing.
The Carteret County school system just completed construction of a security wall at Newport Elementary School in response to outcries from Newport parents following the mass shooting in May at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. In addition, county and municipal leaders agreed to provide school resource officers at all county public schools beginning this school year. SROs were on duty at county schools opening day, which was Aug. 29.
If the board approves bids Sept. 6, the walls will be built at Beaufort Middle, East Carteret High, Morehead City Elementary, Morehead City Middle and Smyrna Elementary/Down East Middle schools. School officials said the walls would be funded by a portion of the proceeds from a $42 million school bond referendum approved by county voters in November 2020. They did not provide an estimate on how much the bids total.
As for the decision regarding the closure of MaST, the school board, in April, asked Superintendent Dr. Rob Jackson to conduct a study on closing the school, which meets on the campus of Carteret Community College, after the Class of 2023 graduates. He presented the results of the study to board members during their Aug. 2 meeting.
While a few reasons were given in the resolution for the board asking for the study, many parents continue to complain no clear reason has been given to close the school now that the N.C. General Assembly has approved allocating $180,000 in recurring funds for MaST. Lack of state funding was one of the main reasons given by board members for the school’s closure.
Following Dr. Jackson’s presentation, County Board of Education Chairman Clark Jenkins encouraged board members to be prepared to vote at the Sept. 6 meeting.
The 25-page report Dr. Jackson presented in August includes a variety of information regarding the school’s closure, including the impact on students and the traditional county high schools, student enrollment, geographic conditions, student inconvenience/hardships, costs associated with closure, similar programming at traditional high schools, and sentiments of the County Board of Commissioners and CCC officials.
If the school closes, Dr. Jackson said there would be no additional expenses for teaching positions, but he estimates $17,436 for daily transportation from county high schools to CCC for Career and College Promise students. Those students take some college courses at CCC while still in high school.
The latest action is one of several taken by the board to close the school since it opened. The efforts were met with protests from parents and the community, including legal action, which was later dismissed.
In other action, the board will:
- Consider adoption of a $110,708,155 final budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year. The proposed budget includes county, state and federal funds.
- Consider approval of a $863,000 bid by IEMC Group LLC for replacement of an auxiliary building at Carteret Preschool Center in Newport.
- Consider second reading and final approval of multiple policy revisions.
- Receive updates on school capital and bond projects.
Under the consent agenda, the board will:
- Receive a report regarding the out-of-district tuition rate for 2022-23 being set at $3,045 per student.
- Consider approval of school fundraiser requests.
- Consider school advisory council appointments.
- Consider a contract with Le’Chris Counseling Services Inc. to provide treatment and services to Bridges Alternative School students at no cost to Carteret County Schools.
- Consider Memorandum of Agreement with Integrated Family Services to provide behavioral health services to students.
- Consider Memorandum of Agreement with Pathways Human Services of North Carolina to provide mental health in-school therapy services to students who are eligible for Medicaid, Health Choice and/or other payers accepted by the provider.
- Consider School Resource Officer Program Memorandum of Understanding with the Beaufort Police Department, Cape Carteret Police Department, Morehead City Police Department, Newport Police Department and Carteret County Sheriff’s Office.
- Consider addendum to the Carteret Community College Career and College Promise dual enrollment MOU. The addendum allows the school system’s CCP coordinator to be provided with a secure Carteret Community College account to access student data and records retrieval systems.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.