School officials approve extension of meal program stipends

A Beaufort Middle School lunch program worker places milk in a lunch bag to give to a family Thursday. (Cheryl Burke photo)

Editor's note: This article was updated at 11:14 a.m. Saturday, May 9, 2020, to include a cutline. 

BEAUFORT — The County Board of Education approved extending the payment of stipends to employees helping with the school meal program from Friday, May 15 until Friday, June 5.

The action was taken as part of the consent agenda during the board’s May meeting, held Tuesday via Zoom.

In April the board approved paying stipends to child nutrition workers and bus drivers delivering lunches to students while school campuses are closed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The original date set to end paying stipends was May 15, based on the original projected date the school year would end. However, the State Board of Education has since extended the school year through June 5.

School Finance Officer Kathy Carswell estimates the total cost of stipends at $45,642. The money to pay the stipends comes from state COVID-19 supplements provided to the school district. The state has provided $223,913 in COVID-19 funds to the system.

Interim Superintendent Richard Paylor pointed out during the Tuesday meeting that last Friday was National School Lunch Hero Day.

“We can’t thank cafeteria workers enough for what they do,” he said.

While volunteers have been assisting in the effort, Mr. Paylor said in April he needed more personnel to drive buses and prepare food. He said the stipends would encourage employees who are aiding in the effort.

The board also received a brief update on the Marine Science and Technologies Early College High School.

Chief Academic Officer Heather Dietzler said the school is currently reviewing applications for the 2020-21 school year. School officials are still waiting to hear how much state funding the school will receive.

“We are still waiting for a state budget to pass,” Ms. Dietzler said.

During a special meeting in April, the board adopted a $25.5 million county operations request for 2020-21, with board member Travis Day casting a dissenting vote because of concern over funding for MaST.

The school was nearly closed last summer after a bitter battle between MaST parents, students and supporters and some school board members, including Mr. Day. The school ended up receiving a combination of funds through Carteret Community College and the county, with no state funds.

School officials are hoping the state will provide about $200,000 for the school for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Until the state adopts its budget, they wait.

BOE Chairman John McLean, who has been a supporter of MaST, said during the April meeting that he and Vice Chairman Clark Jenkins have met with county commission Chairman Bill Smith and County Manager Tommy Burns to discuss MaST. He said they had indicated they were willing to support MaST if there is a strong focus on vocational education.

MaST allows students to gain high school and college credits simultaneously, is housed on the CCC campus and follows the college’s academic calendar.

In other action, the board:

  • Heard the first reading of several policy revisions.
  • Proclaimed May 4-8 Teacher Appreciation Week.
  • Approved a $323,656 state budget revision.

Under the consent agenda, the board:

  • Approved extending fifth year child nutrition contracts for 2020-21 for milk and dairy, produce, food and supplies.
  • Adopted a record retention policy.


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

(1) comment


Great news; parents no longer have to feed their kids. Perfect.

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