I would like to send my apologies to each of the Class of 2024 potential incoming class of MaST Early College High school students, for as a community we have failed you. Due to our community not being able to problem solve, think outside the box and fully support this innovative program you will not get the same opportunities that the current MaST students experience, for that, we have failed you.

All of you, along with the other 201 students from Carteret County who have applied to this program over the past three years, who are actively seeking new educational and vocational training options outside of the traditional school model, we hear you, but we have failed you. Of the other seven Cooperative Innovative High School models opened the same year as MaST, your county is the only one that has decided not to support your endeavors. The local board of education continues to express their concern over not being guaranteed state funding, but those other seven CIH programs are in the same boat, yet their counties stood behind their established schools, their students who sought something different and continued to support them in difficult financial times.

Recently, the BOE raised concerns that enrollment had fallen below the needed amount to sup-port the Principal’s salary, yet 201 students had applied prior to you, but only 100 were admitted, not taking into account some student might relocate, transfer or struggle with the rigor of the program, so the burden fell to not allow you to attend due to poor planning of not allowing 60 students in a year to account for a measure of error in enrollment. Again, I am sorry.

I am sorry you will not get to join a program that was designed to serve at-risk, economically dis-advantaged and first-generation college students as well as academically advanced students seeking more challenging curriculum at an earlier age.

MaST is one of the 131 CIH programs that is meeting these needs. Currently, 36% of their student population is considered “at-risk.” Fifty-four percent is considered economically disadvantaged, the highest percentage of the 4 public high schools in the County (NC Report Card Data). Lastly, 63% of the current MaST population is first generation col-lege.

Imagine the impact and opportunities that you could have at a school that is serving those students it is designed to serve and having significant success!

Within its first full year of programming MaST school performance data was on par with Croatan High School. the other highest rated school in the county according to School Report card data for School Performance Grade History.

I am sorry you will not get to attend the school where 74% of the school as a whole has maintained a 3.0 weighted GPA and where the newest incoming class of 2023 had 81.25% of its class maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.

In addition, you will not get to attend a school where not only has there been a demonstrated positive academic impact but a social emotional impact as well. We know this by the impact letters that were written by students and families last year when the BOE voted to close the school, spoke for themselves on how this unique model is meeting the social and emotional needs of youth in our community that may not have had these needs met in a traditional setting.

We know you value this impact and watched closely last year and yet, still bravely applied for this innovative program this year in hopes of a new opportunity. Again, I am sorry that you have been asked to “pause” your educational dreams and social emotional needs.

I am sorry that you have had to hear the rumors and complaints about the school, one being that MaST is a “brain drain” on other schools and should only be a trade school. You and your families have done your research and understand that CIHS are not strictly trade schools; you understand that vocational and occupational training are part of the model.

According to enrollment data, from MaST, four students by year two have already earned a trade credential. This means without even having their high school diploma, they are ready to work. Additionally, of the current students 49% are intended for trade certifications and 35% for associate degrees in a specified occupational skills track. Only 15% are on a college transfer track.

You, like the other students and families involved in MaST under-stand that, (1) the school is meeting the program designed as it is outlined by the General Assembly and (2) 84% are on track to earn a trade or occupational skill that are so desperately needed in our community. You aspire to be like the over 50% of the current students enrolled who have participated in a Marine Trade courses. You, as a prospective freshman get how important this is to our community. You also understand the importance that data indicates in year three, the current 91 students will ALL be enrolled in at least 3 college courses, which will help increase the FTE for the college. You are aware that Carteret Community College has invested in your future and has renovated their building to welcome you, again, I am sorry.

As I have stated before, I understand the concerns about budgets. I understand Carteret County is hurting. All states, all counties and all school systems are in unprecedented financial constraints, but to my knowledge Carteret County is the only one limiting innovative and evidenced based educational options that are designed to put money back in the economy sooner by training students at an accelerated rate in trades, occupational skills and for some to get their 4-year degree sooner-all of which makes each one more employable in our community.

As citizens, parents, community members, and voters we all have to dig deep, problem solve and not let education and vocational training options what we look to cut first when the times get difficult.

Maybe the news from the SENATE BILL 816 Appropriations/Base Budget Committee Substitute Adopted 6/3/20 House Committee Substitute Favorable 6/11/20 that indicates $1,880,000 in nonrecurring funds for the 2020-2021 fiscal year to be allocated to local school administrative units in amounts consistent with those set forth in Section 7.22 of S.L. 2017-57 as supplemental funding for the following cooperative innovative high schools for the 2020-2021 school year - includes funding for The Marine Sciences and Technologies Early College High School will give pause to this community to reconsider your efforts.

I am sorry you had to put your educational endeavors on “pause” when there are local and state leaders and community members who think your educational options are worth the investment. I can only hope that the Carteret County Board of Education will reconvene to re-consider their decision to force you to pause your educational choice and reconsider allowing you to follow your vocational and educational dreams.

In the meantime, I once again offer my apologies as a community member for the turmoil you have experienced, while you may not have gotten your admittance letter yet, it does not negate the emotional turmoil and disappointment you no doubt have felt since June 2, 2020. I sincerely, hope you are given the opportunity to attend MaST as an upcoming freshman and Class of 2024 and know that you have do have a village of support and know you will be a great asset to the program.

"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education. (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)."

As a community, I hope we can set an example of intelligence and character by problem solving to help those students meet their needs for those 50 students that had aspired to attend MaST next year and for the many that will come after them, as well as the current students.

(1) comment

dc

"Only 15% of the students are on track to attend a 4-yesr college", or words to that effect? What is not being comprehended here? Wasn't the ECHS concept originally about providing students whose parents were not college graduates an advantage to become a college graduate themselves or something along those lines? Certainly everyone does not need or want a 4-year college degree which has been the push in the recent past. So, this ECHS is unique in that it is trying to be all things to all students who are lucky enough to get chosen by a lottery? That's an admirable undertaking & goal but is it possible, and more importantly is it fair?

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