Stacy, N.C .
February 28, 2020
TO THE EDITOR:
I am writing this letter in response to Francis Marion aka “The Swamp Fox” and his guerilla warfare attack on me published in your paper earlier this week. I suppose his letter was retribution for my earlier endorsement of Travis Day and Jerry Buttery for Carteret County Board of Education. Having worked professionally with both gentlemen, I wanted to offer my support to their campaigns. I had no idea that by doing so, I would become the target of a person who refuses to even publish their name and instead sends in a letter signed with the name of Revolutionary War military officer.
To begin with, let me state that I have been involved with politics for all of my life. Some of my earliest memories are of attending political rallies with my grandparents. I make no apologies for that. As an adult, I have spoken with elected officials from the courthouse to the White House. I speak with them as a mother, as a community leader, and as an advocate for those who live Down East and especially the commercial fishermen. For years, I have contributed to numerous politicians from the county level to the state and federal level. We live in America, and I can give to any candidate I choose. I have spoken to candidates since being elected to the school board, but have never done so in any way other than as an advocate for our schools and a cheerleader for the amazing teachers and students who make up our district.
Let me address my position on MaST, which I feel certain is the root of Mr. Marion’s issues with me. MaST was marketed to me as a trade school before I was ever elected, and I supported it. But by year two, the word on the street was that it was an academy for academically gifted kids, or a science institute. Furthermore, we were shocked to look at enrollment numbers and see how inequitable the distribution was across the county.
As the representative for East Carteret, I knew that if this same trend continued, the students at East Carteret High School would suffer. I read the report submitted by principal Katherine Steele and was shocked to see what was happening at East and what could ultimately happen at East if these trends continued. In five years, 20% of the student population could be gone. I told everyone to go read the 800-page MaST report and to read Ms. Steele’s report. I also re-read the application CCPS provided to DPI on whom they were going to serve. By year two, the students coming in didn’t fit this model. For example, 38 of the 50 students had parents with college degrees. Where did the first-generation college piece go? CCPS needs to serve who they say they are going to serve.
As an alternative to the current model, I mentioned doing an early college like Pitt County offers. Kids stay at their local high school for their first and second periods and then are bussed to the community college. We could provide more children opportunities if that were the model. Ultimately, my decision to vote to end the program was the lack of state funding. Lack of funding has been from the beginning and continues to be the most significant piece of the problem. It has NEVER been these kids versus those kids. We have the state’s best high schools and students! And as a board, our commission is to serve every student in our county.
Another piece of information in this “Swamp Fox” letter was tire sales. This is so petty that I hate to even address the accusations of impropriety. Chadwick Tire Company has sold CCPS tires on a state contract for over twelve years. I have tried on numerous occasions to explain the this process because two articles in the Carteret News-Times did not explain how it worked. For example, if our company buys the tires for $150, we then sell and deliver the tires to CCPS for $100. Following their purchase, we go online and apply for a credit for the difference from the tire manufacturer. Then the tire manufacturer pays our company a six dollar delivery commission. We receive no commission from any government agency. The TIRE MANUFACTURER PAYS the ONLY PROFIT I receive. Since April 1, 2019, when I made everyone aware I was doing business with CCPS, they have done $109.00 worth of business with Chadwick Tire. When I was elected, I purchased my own laptop because I did not want CCPS to buy me one and I have also been giving my salary to my schools through various sponsorships, events and Donors Choose. I’m not in this for the money.
The previous editorial also mentions legal fees. If you want to go there, let’s talk about the legal fees incurred by Carteret County Public Schools to research emails between board members and central service? No one is talking about that, but it is referenced in the Superintendent’s resignation letter that was linked to the “Swamp Fox” letter. Please go see the resignation letter and take note that a lack of a pay raise and board of education members asking hard questions were both reasons that led to Mr. Bottom’s resignation.
The inequities that are mentioned in the “Swamp Fox” letter are the reason I ran for CCBOE. I could not believe my eyes the first time I went to East Carteret after being away for twenty plus years: condemned tennis courts, porta-johns on baseball and softball fields, and an auditorium that was pitiful with rusty seats from the old movie theater. At one point this summer, I mentioned taking my first year’s school board salary and adding my own money to make a five thousand dollar donation to the ECHS Booster Club for tennis courts. Our plan was to reach out to the local businesses and alumni to raise the additional funds. Mr. Bottoms completely shut down that idea. Imagine my surprise when, after a few months, Morehead Middle School had privately fundraised to replace their gym floor. What works for one school should work for all of them.
It is amazing to me that my district, the kids from Cedar Island to Harkers Island, South River, and Beaufort, and the schools east of the Newport River are never treated the same as those in the rest of the county. If people had done the right thing and kept equal opportunities for children ALL ACROSS Carteret County, I would have never run for office!
I am a voice for DOWN EAST and the people of District Six. That is how I was raised. The people of Carteret County should be ashamed of how our smaller schools are treated compared to the larger schools. We are living in the 21st century. People need to do what is right by making all our schools equitable! We do not want any more than anyone else has, we just want the same, whether you live in Cedar Point or Cedar Island.
KATHRYN SMITH CHADWICK
District 6 Carteret County BOE Member