In view of new information provided at Wednesday’s public hearing on the Marine Science and Technologies Early College High School (MaST), the County Board of Education should rescind its June 20 vote to close the school.
The board’s action was based on a recommendation by county commissioners in their June 17 meeting that the school board use $245,958 in county funds earmarked by MaST for the 2019-20 school year to save seven teacher positions that might be lost due to federal and state funding cuts.
Reasoning the county would not receive $180,000 promised by the General Assembly because of a potential veto by Gov. Roy Cooper of the state budget by June 30 — which he did — the board decided MaST, in which students can earn up to two years of college credit, would close.
Saying the decision was premature, N.C. Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, chairman of the House Education Appropriations, says indications are good that seven Democrat House votes needed to override Gov. Cooper’s veto are there.
Absent that funding, Carteret Community College President Dr. John Hauser has promised the needed money to continue MaST. These funds would come from bookstore revenues used for student support services, along with curriculum development and program improvement.
In a study provided to county commissioners, Dr. Hauser said the economic impact to the county of college funding to MaST over the next five years would be $455,752. This includes grant funding unique to early college partners that would otherwise not be available.
Since students applying academic credits to future college courses thereby reducing college time and tuition pay less, they also realize benefits. For participating students in the 2018-19 school year, that savings was $119,323.
Students who remain in the county after graduating MaST also derive benefits because of the training they will receive in school.
Citizen passion to keep MaST open was patently evident Wednesday when the board was served with preliminary injunction to stop the closure of the school, which was scheduled to open for the 2019-20 school year with 50 freshmen and 50 sophomores Wednesday, Aug. 7.
Given the financial commitment in place to support MaST, the board should withdraw its previous motion when it meets in special session at 6 p.m. Monday in the system’s central office.