Harkers Island, N.C.
July 17, 2020
TO THE EDITOR:
I am writing to bring attention to an urgent matter regarding MaST Cooperative Innovative High School in Morehead City. As you know, the Carteret County Board of Education moved to close the school over the summer of 2019.
All along, the Board of Education maintained that the sole issue was lack of funding from the state level. In the summer of 2020, the Board of Education voted to "pause" the incoming freshman class due to lack of funding from the state.
On July 01, 2020 Governor Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 816 which specifically names MaST as a recipient for Cooperative Innovative High Schools that will receive funding. The argument that the funding is not there or that the funding is un-certain is no longer valid.
MaST parents were not notified of this change. We have had to find out all information on our own, much like we found out that the school board was quietly trying to close the school. We have reached out to all the school board members. As of this morning, I have only heard back from the Chairman, John McClean, aka Bubba. His email stated “Unfortunately, the state approved a one time, non recurring amount for MaST. We are trying to prevent this from happening again next year with an additional 50 students.”
That response isn't acceptable. 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. The entire school system runs on an annual budget, as does the county. To put it in perspective, would the school board put enrolling a kindergarten class on pause at a school because they only know they have money in this year's budget? Personally, I find the entire situation offensive. There are also many other people in the community who do as well.
I would like to formally ask the Carteret County Board of Commissioners to stand by the promises you have personally and publicly given to the students of MaST, the community, the many local businesses, and the parents over the past year. Please step in, use your influence and powers of persuasion and encouragement to convince the Carteret County Board of Education to do the right thing, and do it now without any further hesitation or "pause."
Both the Board of Education and the Board of Commissioners have all stated publicly for over a year now that your opposition to MaST is strictly about funding only. That argument has been removed and is no longer valid.
The freshman class has already applied to MaST. They only need to be notified of their acceptance. Carteret Community College has spent $62,500 on renovations to accommodate 100 extra students over the next 2 years. This is especially important information right now, as the western county high schools in the county are overcrowded.
Allowing MaST to take in their 50 students that they had already anticipated, planned for, and now have the funding for will be especially helpful in these uncertain times. The school system is struggling with how to handle the social distancing mandate required by Governor Cooper due to Covid19. MaST already has the extra room, making it clear that they absolutely should be allowed to accept their freshman class.
I would also like to add that the Carteret County Economic Development Foundation is actively running advertising, articles, and working with business-es to encourage families to move to the Crystal Coast. Having a premier, officially recognized Maritime High School that is actively turning out skilled workers through many different programs during high school is a wonderful addition to Carteret County.
Many of the articles and in depth studies by the Economic Development Foundation focus on the lack of qualified workers to fill the jobs in this area. MaST should be celebrated for what it is accomplishing with its students. Please look at their achievements in the 2 short years they have been open! Even in the face of all the controversy, the students are absolutely thriving and succeeding at a pace that would take anyone's breath away.
Ultimately, Carteret County NEEDS MaST! These skilled workers will graduate, bring jobs, business interest, revenue, and keep our young adults right here in Carteret County.
ROBIN ANDREWS MEYER