MaST will not continue to operate for a second year following a 4-3 decision by the Board of Education to end funding.
The Board decided to follow the recommendation of the County Commissioners that was passed Monday, after they declined to provide a portion of funding for the school.
Board of Education Chair Travis Day made the motion that resulted in the decision:
“Given the continued uncertainty of state funding required to sustain the early college, given the lack of financial support for MaST at the county level, and given the additional lack of funding to sustain numerous teaching positions in other schools throughout our county, I move that we act on the recommendations of the Board of Commissioners to use local funds previously allocated for MaST to fund as many unfunded teaching positions as possible. This will unfortunately leave MaST Early College High School unfunded and will result in the school needing to be closed.”
Board Member Brittany Wheatly seconded the motion.
Day then read a statement sympathizing with students who had a successful year at MaST and explained that closing MaST would be financially responsible, because the school would not be able to continue without state funding.
“It is easy to look at the cases of individual students and see the benefits MaST provides to these students and the desire to continue to help them. It is much more difficult to look at the big picture and see the unintended consequences that funding MaST may have on the rest of our school system and all of its students.”
Despite the county Board of Commissioner’s decision to not give the school funding, other local funds, via Carteret Community College, were still on the table leading up to Thursday’s meeting.
A statement from the college said it is prepared to commit a portion of the MaST funding needs as it did last year, and college President Dr. John Hauser praised the school.
“We are so pleased with the student outcomes and growth in the inaugural year of the MaST Early College High School,” said Hauser. “This success mirrors national and statewide research focused on the effectiveness of the Early College High School model. We will continue our wonderful partnership with the Carteret County Public Schools administration and each of the county high schools.”
MaST students and parents filled the audience at the Board of Education meeting. Many students carried handmade signs calling to save MaST. A couple parents reacted during the meeting, even though Day said there would not be time for public comment after one parent, Lindsey Webb, asked.
Day explained that after he read the motion and statement, there would be a discussion period followed by a vote.
The board discussed whether to vote on the motion today or in two weeks, after the state announces its budget and whether funding for early colleges will be included.
Board Member Melissa Ehlers questioned why Day suggested the vote take place immediately, rather than wait to make a decision after the budget was decided.
“As far as I’m concerned, today is a false deadline,” she said.
Day made the point that waiting to decide the fate of MaST would delay the hiring process for teachers and create a potential for them to take jobs elsewhere. Furthermore, he said that funding from the state is unlikely, and delaying the decision would not change the outcome of the vote.
Board Member John McLean said he wouldn’t fund MaST without state support, but he didn’t want to vote until he knew the state decision and was fully informed.
McLean directly asked Superintendent Mat Bottoms, who is also secretary of the Board of Education, whether delaying the hiring process would harm the outcome. Bottoms said that while hiring in July is later than they would like, it happens every year and they still get good teachers.
The Board members who voted in favor of passing the motion to close MaST were Kathryn Chadwick, Clark Jenkins, Travis Day, and Brittany Wheatly. Those against the motion were John McLean, Melissa Ehlers, and Jake Godwin.
Godwin tried to abstain from the vote until he had more information, but doing so was against the Board of Education meeting policies. His wish to abstain was taken as a vote against the motion.
Upon passing the motion to close MaST, students in the room began to cry. Jayden Conner, who just finished his freshman year at MaST, said he thinks he’ll be home schooled next year instead of attending public school.
DeAnne Rosen, principle of MaST, said the decision was heartbreaking for the students and that they would look at secondary funds and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to keep the school open.
“It’s not over,” she said.
The Board of Education will hold another special meeting next week, Thursday, June 27, at 8:30 am. The agenda for that meeting will be available online Friday morning.
This article has been updated with a statement from Carteret Community College offering funding for MaST.