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 The argument that the funding is not there or that the funding is un-certain is no longer valid.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

(9) comments

David Collins

The education business in N.C. is a closely guarded boys and girl club that answers to no one and will not tolerate anything they might consider a threat to their kingdom . They enjoy unfettered access to the Golden Fleece , tax dollars , and consume vast amounts of it with little or no visible oversight . Prime example is the schools nutrition program which has evolved from providing school meals to feeding whole families . They float bond schemes , loans that must be paid back , seemingly at will and our elected officials fall all over themselves in approval . Why not , it is after all “for the children and who doesn’t love children” ? Heck , the taxpayers don’t mind digging a little deeper to pay for it all . Do they ?

Sleepwalker

Robin,

Good luck getting a clear concise answer.

Osprey

Note that the County has paid the $62000 renovation cost. The principal salary/benefit package =$105000. $167000 of the $200000 is already spent.

Level

If the county has already spent 167,000 for the school to operate then why not open the school fully? We are voting this fall on weather to spend money for improvements and new gyms it makes no sense to build new gyms and let them sit vacant or only use by just one grade level. If the county is looking to space out the students then why not use MaST and add extra students.

David Collins

Correct me if I am mistaken but have you guys not been down this road before ? It is quite obvious that someone in education la-la land does not want this MAST thing to happen . The fact that all that money has been spent or obligated for renovations and a pricey principal with no further movement toward opening should speak volumes to anyone that is listening . The whole situation is nothing short of weird , and smacks of games people play . Time is running out , quickly and soon this fiasco will be moot . The yellow eyed monster that is education can dodge , duck and block with the best .

relax at Shack

Travis Day has made it his mission to shut this down since day 1. As far as this new fella coming in to take the reins? Watch yo' back, buddy! Assume he's getting the $105,000 salary as well??

PR

Bloom where you are planted and sow where you are fed.

dc

Wouldn't it be great if everyone could always get what they want? Most of us want what's best for our children. Sometimes life isn't fair. There is a finite source of education dollars but some believe it doesn't apply to them. What is/was Travis' agenda other than seeing a potential for a future funding problem? The ECHS idea I believe conceived by a billionaire's foundation providing seed money to encourage/assist so-called "disadvantaged" students whose parents were NOT college graduates the opportunity to graduate college. "Educators" & others jumped at that seed money & got the ball rolling establishing early college high schools. As time passed that "idea" of encouraging & financing a channel for the "disadvantaged" to become college graduates morphed into lots of different "ideas" in "innovative education". Only problem was the funding dried up. So, where do the "educators" & others go for funding? Not the billionaires who started this "innovative education" idea. Locally seems CC was late to this "innovative education". Seems some were convinced to go along as they were promised it was going to be about vocational opportunities but that's not exactly what happened. Seems the "lottery" produced folks with differing ideas about "innovative education" opportunities. That's great but is a "lottery" providing "enhanced education opportunities" fair to ALL students & parents? Life wasn't fair at the inception of this "innovative education" test run & it may not seem fair now depending..

beachmami13

Seems ironic that CC wants to tout their great test scores and yet can't fund early college. Agree w/you about disadvantaged - they really need to look at that issue in this county. Perhaps the county likes having those disadvantaged youths remain disadvantaged so they have more service workers who are willing to live in subsistence type housing and work for $10/hour, but maybe I'm just cynical...

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