MaST Cooperative Innovative High School

Carteret County Public Schools & Carteret Community College

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We’re well into 2020 and preparing to take applications for next year’s MaST class, yet we STILL have not received promised state funding.  And we have also now been told that the cost of the MaST principal salary & benefits will not be covered this year or that’s an extra ~$105,000 per year we are short funding.  (This cost was omitted from the MaST budget supplied by CCPS.)   Add the principal cost to the 2019/2020 budget figures anticipated to be spent on MaST in 2019/2020, and our county is expected to spend over half a million dollars on MaST just this year alone (for 94 students).


(Sometimes when you hear someone say “Put children first!” what they may really mean is “Put MY children first.”)


MaST may indeed be a worthy cause, and nobody is denying that these 94 students have needs.  But our school system has a LOT of needs.  As a board, we have ~8,000 additional students to think about as well.  Money spent at MaST is money not available to our other schools. We are either spending additional money at MaST on top of our current budget, or we must reduce resources (like teaching positions) at our other schools in order to reallocate those resources to MaST.  As a board, we must prioritize which needs (and wants) we fund.  It was financially irresponsible to start a new school that we were not certain we would able to afford.  And assuming that state funding does eventually come through to fund part of the school’s expenses, as state taxpayers, we ultimately will still be paying for it.  Even with the lure of some “free” money from the state, it is the BOE’s responsibility to decide how to prioritize and best use our local tax dollars.


Note:  The upcoming CASTT (Center for Advanced Skilled Trades & Technology) program at ECHS and the Health Sciences Academy at WCHS are examples of innovative programs within our current high schools (available in the fall of 2020).



Per Pupil Expenditure

The suggestion that MaST can educate our county’s children more cheaply than the other high schools is wrong.  How does a small school such as MaST achieve a lower “per pupil expenditure” (PPE) than our other high schools?  Unfortunately, the summary of per pupil expenditures that MaST advocates have been citing is overly simplistic and misleading.  MaST does not have to pay for the same services as our other high schools, and it is being subsidized by other schools...artificially making its PPE appear much lower.  You must dig deeper to reveal the full picture.  (Full breakdown of high school PPE at:


For example, last year WCHS, ECHS & Croatan spent a combined $531,300 on Athletics...MaST spent $0.  But MaST students have still been participating in sports at the other high schools.  Our other high schools spent $241,828 on Transportation Services, while MaST spent $0...yet their students still ride our busses.  Our other high schools spent $2,143,447 serving students with disabilities, while MaST spent $18.   If our other high school budgets excluded the education of students with disabilities, their PPE would much, much lower.  Our other high schools spent a combined $8,325,644 on many educational costs... band, p.e., custodial, utilities, etc...while MaST spent nothing on these same items.  Just because such expenses are not on the “accounting” books of MaST does not mean that these items are “free.”  Somebody is still paying for them.  So from a taxpayer perspective, it is extremely deceitful to tout an artificially low PPE while other high schools and CCC are funding many of the educational costs which MaST ignores and can omit from its own budget.




MaST as a Trade School
Although MaST had been touted as a “trade school” targeting at risk or “first generation” students, it was only after pressure from some members of the BOE and County Commissioners that MaST revised the types of students it was attempting to attract and admit.  Many students applied to MaST based on the lure of "free college credits."  MaST application data revealed that 86.5% of 2019-2020 MaST applicants and 81% of 2019-2020 applicants were interested in transitioning from MaST directly to a 4-year college.  (Graphs from pages 447 and 453 of the MaST study report:




Brief Timeline of Events


We were told originally told we would be receiving $1,600,000 from the state over the first 5 years for MaST.



However, funding for MaST remained uncertain.

“It would be financially irresponsible of us as a board to proceed with Early College this fall when future funding is still unknown.” ...  “Opening at this point will put us at risk of a financial strain on our school system finances, especially in future years. It is simply not worth the risk. Are we going to open the new high school for a year, only to close the doors next year if future funding does not materialize? That is not fair to students, and it is not fair to our County’s tax payers.” – Travis Day



We were later told that we would only be receiving $900,000 for MaST.

2018-04-10_MaST revised_budget.pdf


Then we found out that due to budget an impasse, we would not be receiving additional funding from the state.

2018-05-31_June 1,_2018_Budget Update_for_the_Board.pdf


The county commissioners voted to reassign local MaST funding to other county school needs.



Still without state funding (and now short on local funding as well), the BOE votes to use limited local budget dollars to fund lost teaching positions instead of MaST. 



After much pressure and an injunction filed by MaST parents in an effort to keep MaST open, the BOE decided to reverse its earlier decision (by a couple votes) and voted to let MaST remain open.



As of 3/1/2020, MaST still has not received the promised state funding.



Detailed Timeline of Events

Below are submitted documents, Carteret County News-Times articles, editorials & letters to the editor, and various emails discussing factors surrounding the potential closing of MaST Early College in Carteret County:



“Travis Day said he “loved the program” being offered, but said he adamantly disagreed with creating a separate high school. He would like these opportunities to be offered in the county’s three high schools instead of making students choose what high school they want to attend. Mr. Day questioned why there was a need for a separate program. He said he could not justify spending the additional money when there are needs across the county. Mr. Day said this program gives an unfair advantage to some students, and said it seems to reward those students ready to drop out. He said part of his concern was the cost and another concern was the actual logistics of who would get into the program.”






The “Early College High School” program has been marketed to many members of our community as a way to better prepare students who want to learn applicable skills, but who do not necessarily want to go to a typical 4-year college. This facet of the program would aim to train students with skills (like small engine repair, boat building …) that can be used within our local community, working for local businesses. This sounds great and I support this.


My primary concern has been with details of the “Early College High School” application. I feared that its “target population” could exclude many good, hard working students. The following mission statement is from page 6 of the “Early College High School” application: 


“The mission of the school is to provide a personalized, academically energized environment at both the high school and college level for students who are first-generation, college bound, traditionally underrepresented in higher education, and/or at risk for dropping out of high school.”


At first glance, this appears to be an admirable goal, but I feel it unfortunately excludes many students.







2018-02-17 With latest approval, MaST goes to legislature News-Times article


2018-04-10_MaST revised_budget.pdf


Excerpts from County Board of Commissioners’ Meetings, May & June 2018

Excerpt From May 7, 2018 Minutes

“Chairman Mansfield shared that money is only generated by ad valorem taxes or sales taxes; we either have to spend less somewhere, give you more, or raise taxes; with that being said, has the Board of Education considered that in year four; what if there is not money and now $450,000 is going to the MaST program and there is not money inside the schools; has the School thought about what they are going to do if there is not money. A member of the school board reiterated that the three items that rose to the top of their priority list was the mental health, the MaST program and the compensation item; and without that money, there would be some tough decisions; the decisions have not been made at this time. Chairman Mansfield said if we are going to give you that $801K and now you are obligating to spend in years two, three and four, it keeps increasing; if we do not have the money to increase, it will leave the school system deficient in those amounts of money; it will be important for you to know where you plan to cut.”



2018-05-31_June 1,_2018_Budget Update_for_the_Board.pdf

Excerpt of update sent by Mat Bottoms

“The final piece of the budget picture is much more disconcerting.  MaST is on the state’s approval track, however we learned yesterday that the Senate Bill removes the funding for all newly approved early colleges.  For us, this is a $180,000 slice into that school’s budget rendering it practically defunct.  I have contacted Pat McElraft and Norm Sanderson via phone and email to seek their help in getting the associated funding.  At the time of this update, I have heard from Sen. Sanderson’s administrative assistant stating that he was unaware of this issue and she will seek additional information about the cut.  Pat called me this morning and stated that she was unaware of the funding cut and stated there was little she could do to restore it since the budget was an up or down vote.  She later emailed stating that the early colleges will have to wait for next year’s legislative long session for possible funding.  That delayed funding puts us at a distinct disadvantage as we cannot open a new school on the prospects that it may receive funding in a year.  We could wait a year to start the school and have clear, decisive funding in place, of course dependent upon the local funding.


I talked with John Hauser today to determine if other funding sources are available.  He thought we could look for staffing reductions, but that does not even approach the cuts we would need to make, not to mention the cuts in educational delivery due to these teacher reductions.”



Mat Bottoms – May 31, 2018:

Attached is a brief budget update.  Changes have been underway this week and this update contains important information.  I need your feedback by tomorrow morning on MaST as it stands at the threshold of delay or cancellation.


Travis Day – May 31, 2018:

You can all probably guess my feelings on this, but I would vote to not start MaST this year, especially without decisive funding in place. I have expressed concerns all along about our reliance on uncertain state funding for MaST. I continue to feel that the entire MaST process has been entirely too rushed and I prefer not to operate this way...

Given the circumstances, I vote to hold off on MaST rather than trying to rush to open it for this upcoming school year.


John McLean – May 31, 2018:

At this point, I am not willing to prioritize MaST over our other needs nor am I willing to ask the commissioners for an additional $180,000 per year. I vote to hold off on MaST for at least a year.


Melissa Ehlers – May 31, 2018:

Well here is another exercise in hard choices. Future financial hardships versus the benefit to county students.  Unfortunately, as good stewards we must make the tough choice and delay the start of early college until we have secure funding in place.


Mat Bottoms – June 1, 2018:

[...] With MaST appearing to fall from the budget, perhaps we could convince the commissioners to transfer a portion of the MaST money to that need and secure the four mental health professionals.  This money would be set aside pending the Trillium grant, a grant that I think has a very strong possibility of coming to fruition.




Mat Bottoms – June 1, 2018

Despite the numerous phone calls and meetings, little has changed since yesterday’s MaST update. I do not foresee a means to fund the school without taking from other viable programs. I have contacted Sen. Sanderson’s office and asked that they provide $50,000 that could fund a bare bones school, but they have not written that check at this time. Regardless, General Statute 115C-238.51A states:

No cooperative innovative high school shall open prior to the appropriation by the General Assembly of the full amount of the additional funds as requested in the application for that school under G.S. 115C-238.51 for the upcoming fiscal year or fiscal biennium, as appropriate.

Perhaps a second try next year is the best path to take at this time. I really regret the enormous efforts you, as Board members, Heather, and Deanne put into this program that fell short with the stroke of an uninformed pen.


The other consent agenda item is the Memorandum of Understanding for MaST. With the state’s budget in limbo, this may be a moot point. I think there are two avenues to consider. One is to approve of the agreement so that it is in place for now and would become null if the school does not move forward. The other option is to remove it from the Consent Agenda at the onset of the meeting to give the Board an opportunity to voice opinions, gratitudes, regrets, etc.




John McLean – June 1, 2018

Mat and Perry, I would like to remove the MaST agreement, so we can discuss it publicly. Personally I would like to rail on the state for how they removed it.



[The MaST MOU was never removed from the consent agenda nor did the BOE discuss the lack of funding in their BOE meeting.  So MaST was opened, despite the lack of funding!]



Excerpts from County Board of Commissioners’ Meetings, May & June 2018

Excerpt From June 4, 2018 Minutes

“Commissioner Comer asked for clarification on whether the State funded their portion of the MaST Program. Dr. Hauser shared they have not at this point. Dr. Hauser shared the College has figured out how to fund some of the expenses. Commissioner Comer clarified with Dr. Hauser that if they received $185K from the County, that they could make the program move forward. Commissioner Comer shared that it will be important to figure out what they will do if they do not get the money from the State.


“Mr. Bottoms shared that he emailed Representative McElraft the exact question in an attempt to ensure funding, as well as years two through six, and has not heard back. Commissioner Wheatly commented that she cannot guarantee it; Mr. Bottoms shared that she cannot; she just speaks on what they have done historically.”





Excerpts from County Board of Commissioners’ Meetings, May & June 2018

Excerpt From June 18, 2018 Minutes

“Chairman Mansfield shared that if we were to fund the program and you do not get the State funding next year, it’s important to know that we need the State as a partner. Dr. Hauser shared that they would also search for other grant opportunities in order to make it successful.


“Commissioner Robinson shared that when you make this commitment, and you take an underclassman and enroll him in the program, and the funding does not come forth from the State, this Board is almost surely going to be compelled to come up with the funding. Commissioner Robinson shared that it is not actually a pilot program because these studies are currently being offered; this will be an easy program to grow due to the demand and the desire of other students to participate. Commissioner Robinson shared that he is not against the program, but does not want it to be a detriment to the other public schools in the County. Commissioner Robinson shared that he would be inclined to fund the teacher positions that were requested, but cannot understand the need for having a principal appointed and budgeted, or the need for career counselors, when those are available from the schools that the students would be pulled from. Mr. Bottoms confirmed that students can transfer back to their home school; it would look like dual enrollment.”






“It would be financially irresponsible of us as a board to proceed with Early College this fall when future funding is still unknown. We are attempting to use money diverted from CCC’s aquaculture program and use other temporary gifts, and have cut the Early College budget substantially in order to try to open the doors this fall with a “bare bones” Early College. Opening at this point will put us at risk of a financial strain on our school system finances, especially in future years. It is simply not worth the risk. Are we going to open the new high school for a year, only to close the doors next year if future funding does not materialize? That is not fair to students, and it is not fair to our County’s tax payers.”


Some county commissioners have accused us of “alleged careless spending practices.” I can think of nothing more careless than proceeding with the Early College without guaranteed funding in the future. I could go into great detail debating against the need for the Early College (as opposed to other alternatives). But the decision now is not about whether we want Early College in its current form. The decision now is whether we can sustain Early College for the next five years and beyond.  It would have been easy for us to rely on County Commissioners to make the Early College decision for us. We actually should have discussed all of this in public and debated this decision during our last board meeting before presenting our final budget to county commissioners. Approval of the Memorandum of Understanding for MaST (at our last meeting) would have been a good opportunity for us to discuss the lack of funding and whether we should proceed. But it unfortunately remained on the Consent Agenda and was not discussed in public by the board.”   - Travis





“Travis Day asked about the status of the funding from the state and asked what would happen if funding was not provided for the second year.

Superintendent Mat Bottoms explained the funding that had been arranged through the state and county. Mr. Bottoms said all indications show that funding would be available to the second year but if funding was not provided for the second year, the MaST students would return to their respective high schools.



“From the very beginning, I have questioned and scrutinized the need for (and additional cost of) the MaST Early College High School. I believe that sports are an extremely important facet of the high school experience. However, I do not feel that we must replicate all aspects of our traditional high schools at MaST. Today it is sports, but tomorrow it may be band, chorus, art, drama, student council, clubs, prom, and any other activities our traditional high schools offer. And for each activity that we try to accommodate MaST students, additional hurdles and complications will arise for teachers and administrators at our normal high schools. I feel that students who want to take advantage of these activities at their home high schools should enroll in that high school … not only for the sake of the school, but for the sake of the students as well.


 Some school systems and some students may benefit from the availability of an “Early College High School.” But contrary to what many people currently think, students do not need to abandon their home high schools (and their friends and extracurricular activities) and enroll in MaST to pursue a trade or to earn college credits while in high school. Many citizens apparently are not aware that these opportunities are already available to our traditional high school students through the “Career & College Promise” program.  Following is a quote from the program’s webpage (


“Career & College Promise (CCP) is a program that allows North Carolina high school students to earn college credits tuition free while still in high school. The program provides seamless dual enrollment educational opportunities for eligible North Carolina high school students in order to accelerate completion of college certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees that lead to college transfer or provide entry level job skills.””  - Travis



“...traditional High School 9th graders should not be denied opportunities offered to MaST students. I keep hearing and reading about the supposed unique advantage that only MaST students can take college courses in the 9th grade. But information I have gathered appears to contradict some of this.


CCC’s “Career and College Promise Admissions Requirement” webpage specifically outlines options and requirements for 9th and 10th graders. Specific academic criteria exists for these underclassmen. (After all, these are 14-year old kids who could be taking college classes with much older classmates.) So traditional high school 9th and 10th grade students appear to be held to a higher academic standard than MaST students with regards to being able to take courses at CCC. I would think that MaST students should have similar academic requirements before being able to take college courses.


Here’s a MaST advantage you don’t hear much about…much smaller class sizes. I am sure we all would love for our traditional high school students to have better teacher/student ratios. Here’s the paradox. Most people (outside of MaST parents) don’t want a select number of MaST students to enjoy advantages over our traditional high school students. But if there are no significant advantages in attending MaST, why would we allocate resources and money for the new school? If there are significant advantages to MaST students, then the cost of providing these advantages to a select group of students must be weighed against the many other needs in our school system.”



“Travis Day said he supported the program, but had concerns about the costs. He noted that the projections shown are the approximate costs for the first five years. Mr. Day asked about the costs for the years after that.”

The motion passed with 6 voting aye and Mr. Day abstaining.”


2018-08-28_”Meeting_with_the_board”_Summary_of MaST students_provided_by_principal_Dee_Rosen.pdf




“After going through the many federal allocations, it appears we are going to lose 3 federally-funded teaching positions for next school year. We have already learned that the state allocation will leave us with a 1.5 teaching position reduction. The total 4.5 teacher loss (or equivalent positions) will require us to tighten our belts even more. We cannot continue to increase class sizes. We will look for cuts at Central Services, Maintenance, Teacher Assistants, and every other area. There could be a teaching position or two available to cut due to class sizes, but the entire 4.5 positions cannot come from our teaching staff. There will be more to come on this as the budget year nears.”  - Mat




 “We are trying to hold to our word about only requesting the continued projects from last year’s budget – the salary scale adjustments, the funding for year 2 at MaST, and the state-mandated salary and benefits increases, but the unexpected, hurricane-induced loss of the 10-12 state teaching positions is troublesome. The ADM reduction will certainly impact our class sizes and it will be a phenomenal feat if we can maintain our high achievement levels with such a significant reduction.”  - Mat








“...  When we discovered we would be losing funding for multiple teaching positions, I inquired as to whether closing MaST would allow us to help fund the loss of numerous teaching positions at other schools. But I was told that this was not a possibility. Therefore no action was taken to deliberate on closing MaST, and it remained in our budget to continue operating another year (assuming state funding). However, given the current lack of state funding, our situation is different. The county commissioners will not fund MaST if the state does not. Although I can make no assurances, the county commissioners may allow us to use the local funding originally allocated for MaST in order to help fund other school system needs, such as funding teaching positions at other schools.


As Mat mentioned in his original email, it could be as late as October before a final vote on Early College funding could be resolved. This is obviously well into the school year, so we potentially could go yet another year without state funding and having to figure out how we are going to pay for MaST. I warned about this possibility over a year ago, indicating I thought it was irresponsible to open Early College before we were guaranteed it would be funded. Now we are yet again in the same position.”  - Travis





2019-06-10_MaST_revised budget.pdf



2019-06-12_MaST_supporters_appeal_for_Help_ News-Times_article


2019-06-13_MaST_Applicant_Data_provided_to BOE by_Principal_Dee_Rosen.pdf

Data 2018-2019 MaST Applicants

(This info appears to contradict info sent earlier and also info supplied in the Closing Study.)




(This info appears to contradict info sent earlier and also info supplied in the Closing Study.)





From 6/17 County Commissioner Meeting (

(minute 31:27)

Commissioner Robin Comer:   “...about 90% of the students are career path students...”

Dee Rosen:  “88%”

Commissioner Robin Comer:  “...which is not advanced college.” 

Dee Rosen:  “Correct”


(minute 1:40:10)

Commissioner Robin Comer:  “If you had told me tonight that a big, big hunk of these people were going to just a 2-yr advanced college, I wouldn’t have this same attitude.   But when I see 90+% are going to some sort of career-oriented....”






Motion: Chairman Mansfield made a motion to fully fund the County Manager’s recommended budget for Carteret Community College and the County Manager’s recommended budget for the Carteret County School System’s operating and capital budget; with a preference that the money allocated to the School System for MaST be used in an attempt to save teacher positions. Motion was seconded by Commissioner Robinson.


Chairman Mansfield stated that the Board of Education can still decide. Commissioner Farrington stated that we are basically taking it back to the Board of Education for them to make a decision.


Chairman Mansfield called the motion. Motion carried with Commissioners Comer and Farrington opposing.




Matthew Dean Bottoms

[...] tonight, the board of commissioners voted to take the mast funding and reallocate it to hire teachers who were lost due to the ADM reduction. ... Of course, this will need to have a board vote and it will need to be done expeditiously. [...]

Monday, Jun 17 ∙ 8:30 PM


Travis Day

I assume we need to call a special meeting. Should we try for Thursday or one day next week? Can MaST students and parents be contacted before our special meeting to be notified of the result of the commissioner vote? They are going to find out might as well come from the school system.

Monday, Jun 17, 8:44 PM


Melissa Ann Ehlers

Mark stated that they wouldn't make the decision but that you, the school board, would the ones who would have to vote on it. What changed?

Monday, Jun 17, 10:26 PM


Matthew Dean Bottoms

You do have to officially vote, but the wording of the motion was along the lines of moving the money

from MaST to the positions cut due to the ADM loss. We can get the language, but the motion was clear

that MaST was to be unfunded locally.

Tuesday, Jun 18, 12:24 AM






“I am simply trying to gather accurate info to clear up confusion around what appears to be conflicting information surrounding MaST.”  - Travis






“In my opinion, our choice tomorrow could be a simple one. We are voting to fund MaST or we are voting to fund lost teacher positions at the other schools across our county. We can’t have both.


The county commissioners have made their preference clear. They have recommended that we use the funds available to save lost teacher positions. I personally cannot fathom the thought of dragging this out any longer (and for the second year in a row). If we did delay our decision, what will be the ultimate ending? Even with a delay, we’d still have to vote later on whether to use our funds for MaST or for lost teaching positions. So I do not feel that delaying a vote will do us much good.”  - Travis




“Let’s be honest, the priority of Early College has unfortunately never been about increasing trade skills. It’s been about giving more students an opportunity to go on to college after MaST, and to provide an alternative for students who do not perform as well in our regular high schools and would prefer a smaller school with smaller class sizes. And this is no surprise, given the goals of Early College programs ( . These are admirable goals, and I don’t blame students and parents for wanting us to keep MaST open for these reasons. But these are not the reasons (increasing trades and local job skills) that were used to sell MaST to the public and to commissioners when they originally agreed to fund MaST.”  - Travis





Given the continued uncertainty of state funding required to sustain Early College, and 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 recommendation of the Board of Commissioners to use local funds previously allocated for MaST, to fund as many unfunded teaching positions as possible;

This will leave the MaST Early College High School unfunded and will result in the school needing to be closed.





John McLean

“Again, two weeks does not hurt anything.  And look, I will vote to close MaST in two weeks if we don’t have any guaranteed funding from the state and chances are we won’t.  But it does not hurt a thing to wait.”




Melissa Ehlers

“All the alternative sources that we have not even tapped into...the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.   You know this is one their fortes...They fund Early Colleges.  They go out and this is what they do.  We haven’t looked at everything.”


John McLean

“And Travis, listen I’m not trying to mislead anybody.  I’m going to say that one more time.  If we don’t get an additional funding source, I will vote to move funds away from MaST.  There’s no way we can continue to fund it.  But two weeks or three weeks will not hurt anything to wait.  It just gives us more time to research different ideas.”






Mat Bottoms

“We know that success in the classroom has to do with class size.  That is one of the key components.  So we, that’ our race car that is the the staff we have.”






“I sympathize with students who attended MaST last year or who were anticipating being able to attend this coming year. I hope you can understand this situation from the BOE’s perspective, as we are trying to make financially responsible decisions that will best serve our entire school system. Despite the sadness that the closing of MaST may have caused some, we should now have almost a quarter of a million dollars extra (previously allocated for MaST) to cover lost teaching positions across our county. Once we confirm we will be able to cover all salary adjustments (scheduled raises) and mandated state benefit increases for current school employees, funding for the “lost” teaching positions will be assured.”  - Travis






“The MaST money from last year and this year, just over $245,000 will be transferred to provide teachers needed to reduce class sizes. We have a few immediate needs, including a social studies teacher at WCHS and a kindergarten teacher at MCPS, that will be processed today to seek applicants for those positions. We are in the process of examining class sizes at all of the schools and will address the remaining positions over the next couple of weeks.”  - Mat




“Regarding the accusation of the “premature vote,” some continue to ask “What would it hurt to delay”?  Well, I had previously warned our board and also explained in our special meeting that we risk losing our top choices for teacher hires in Carteret County if funding for their hiring was in limbo due to a delay in closing MaST.”  - Travis



2019-06-27_School_board_to_formalize_efforts_to_close_MaST_(updated)_News-Times article






2019-07-05 Email from Travis to Mat Bottoms - In Defense of the MaST closing process

“My letter absolutely was written as a letter to the editor. ...”


2019-07-05 Legal info regarding the process leading to the MaST closing study

“Closing MaST is one of the more complicated procedural situations I have experienced.  I can say this with virtual certainty - the vote on June 20 was not effective to close MaST and the actual wording on the motion recognized that.”


“The June 20 vote was not “illegal,” it was just ineffective to formally close MaST.  It can be said, and I have said it, the vote triggered the formal process of considering closing the school.”  - Neil Whitford (BOE Attorney)



“In defense of the county commissioners’ decision, as an elected official, it is difficult being responsible for deciding the best way to spend other people’s money (taxes). People will never agree on what is the best use of such money, which is why many officials prefer to take as little of people’s money as possible and leave more of the decisions in the hands of individuals, the people. The commissioners did not want to raise taxes, therefore we as a school board had a limited amount of money to work with.”  - Travis




“The three high schools have been told to schedule the students, but the transcripts have been delayed. According to Anita, our Data Manager, the transcripts will be ready today and this should enable the students to have their schedules completed at the their high schools of origin. The former MaST schedules are still in the system and the students will be essentially enrolled in both schools temporarily. With a final vote on the 25th or the 29th, we should be able to delete one schedule, implement the other, and quickly proceed with the intentions of the Board.”  - Mat




1)      Our Board did not illegally close MaST.

2)      BOE members did not ask for and are NOT receiving raises. 

3)      I have never told state representatives that we do not want state funds for Early College.

4)      Redistricting is not a solution for saving MaST.

5)      MaST is NOT a “trade school.”

6)      MaST is an “Early College.”

7)      I support (not oppose) more trades and job-skills classes in our high schools. 

8)      A 100% trade school may not be the best choice.

9)      Don’t ignore our Dual Enrollment program with CCC. 

10)   Traditional high school students CAN take trade classes at CCC in the 9th and 10th grade.

11)   I want the opportunities to earn free college credits to be more easily accessible to ALL our children.

12)   We are not abandoning certain children if we close MaST. 

13)   I want small classes for ALL of our children

14)   Beware of misleading information.

15)   It is NOT cheaper to educate students at MaST than in other high schools in our county.

16)   CCC’s offer to pay for MaST is also not “free” money. 

17)   State per-pupil funding will not fund MaST.

18)   MaST was never expected to be self-supporting/self-sustaining with only state funding.

19)   Even with a severely reduced budget, MaST CANNOT support itself without local funding.

20)   Visit for more information.  





2019-07-16 MaST supporters appeal to county News-Times article


2019-07-20 Committee to review MaST closure News-Times article


2019-07-22 School board committee reviews MaST closure report News-Times article


2019-07-22 MaST Study Report Link

Table of Exhibits


Section 1 Meaning of terms

Section 2: Cooperative Innovative High Schools

Section 3. Statutory Procedure for Closing an Early College High School

Section 4: Chronology of MaST

Section 5. Impact on Students

MaST Student/Parents Impact Statements


Alternatives to MaST

Specialized services such as IEP, etc.

Section 6. Profile of students applying - MaST Application

Raw Data (for ALL applicants)

Section 7. Impact on Other Schools

Principals’ Statements

Section 8. Academic evaluation of MaST

Section 9. Funding Sources

Section 10. Budget

Section 11. Actual Finances

Section 12. Other Data Requested

Section 13. Carteret Community College




Many students applied to MaST based on the lure of "free college credits."  MaST application data revealed that 86.5% of 2019-2020 MaST applicants and 81% of 2019-2020 applicants were interested in transitioning from MaST directly to a 4-year college.  (Graphs from pages 447 and 453 of the MaST study report:



“On June 20 of this year the school board, on a split vote, expressing concerns over state and local funding for the school and acknowledging a preference of the County Board of Commissioners to use its appropriation for teacher retention, adopted a motion reallocating the local funding for MaST “to fund as many unfunded teaching positions as possible.” While the sentiment of the school board on June 20 was that MaST would need to be closed, the June 20 action was not effective to close the school and the motion anticipated additional procedures to that end. The action was not “illegal,” it simply was not effective to close the school. It did, however, start a process that could lead to closure.”



2019-07-24 MaST Study Addendum




“Carteret Community College agrees to reimburse Carteret County Public Schools for any expenses incurred for MaST Early College up to $180,000.00 in the absence of the State of North Carolina Biennial Budget for 2019- 2021. Upon ratification of the State budget, Carteret County Public Schools agrees to refund any payments made by Carteret Community College up to $180,000.00 as declared in the North Carolina Joint Conference Committee Report on the current Operations Act of 2019 Public Instruction Page B 24 under Line Item 68 – Cooperative Innovative High Schools Fund Code 1821.”






“There are 8,100 students in the Carteret County Public School System. The school board constantly seeks to provide the best educational opportunities possible to all students, including the 100 MaST students, in a fair and equitable manner within the realities of prudent budgeting. This practice has lifted the Carteret County Public School System to one of the highest achieving school systems in the State.”  - Neil Whitford



2019-07-27 Annul the decision News-Times Editorial



“Tonight, we will vote whether to rescind our initial vote on funding teaching positions, and instead fund MaST early college.  Again, we cannot fund both.  It is an either/or choice.  MaST proponents initially asked for 2 weeks in which to explore alternative funding options.  Now, almost six weeks later, we still do not have viable funding to be able to cover both MaST as well as our teacher positions at our other schools in the county.   So regardless of how you feel about the pros and cons of MaST and how it affects the rest of our school system, it ultimately comes down to a choice of our funding priorities.”  - Travis


From BOE May 20, 2019 Budget Presentation to BOC


Below are the two resolutions on which the BOE voted:





Conclusions drawn from the above findings.

1. Funding uncertainties have plagued MaST since its inception. This will likely continue into the future.

2. The Carteret County Public Schools use a portion of local funding to provide teaching positions in addition to the numbers of teachers allotted by the State. This tends to lower class sizes. The School Board concludes that the best interests of the entire school system are best promoted by using this year’s approximate $245,000.00 appropriation by the county commissioners to retain four teaching positions countywide.

3. MaST has had adverse impacts on East Carteret High School in terms of loss of student enrollment and loss of high achieving students. East Carteret is a relatively small high school and cannot afford these losses if it is to remain a high achieving school.

4. MaST appears to be attracting large numbers of students interested in four-year college or university degrees and does not appear to be focused on one of its important core missions that is to produce graduates ready to enter the maritime trades in Carteret County.

5. There are enrollment slots available in the traditional high schools for all MaST students at their attendance zone schools and excellent educational offerings and opportunities are available to the MaST students along with all 8,100 students in the school system.

6. It is the judgment of a majority of the members of the Carteret County Board of Education that the closing of MaST will better serve the educational interests of the Carteret County Public School System.




4. Before enrolling students for the 2020-2021 school year, the superintendent will:

a. Review the application and selection process for MaST students to ensure that the program is adequately recruiting and admitting students in the categories of "at risk" and "first generation college students" and who, upon completion of their high school and community college degrees, have the vocational education and training needed to serve local aquaculture, commercial fishing, boat manufacturing/service, and other maritime based employers.

b. Review the impact on East Carteret High School or any other traditional high school of the loss of student enrollment and any potential loss of high achieving students to MaST.

c. Report his findings on a) and b) to the School Board and any measures being implemented to:

i. Ensure the recruitment and admission of students who will likely choose vocational training such that upon receiving their high school and community college degrees they can enter the Carteret County workforce in skilled maritime positions; and

ii. Reduce or eliminate any adverse impacts of MaST on East Carteret High School or any other traditional high school.



2019-07-29 School board votes to keep MaST open News-Times article


2019-08-04 After battle, MaST students set to return for new year




2019-09-27 Excerpt of Email from Mat to Rep McElrath & Sanderson

(written to seek funding assistance after Hurricane Florence to address loss of teaching positions)

 “The $253,000 and the later budget reduction were real money for us.  Writing that check meant that other things went without funding.  We could not simply write the check and trust that it would be miraculously covered in the budget, we work on the slimmest of margins with a fund balance of 1% of our total budget.  In the end, we cut 7.5 positions, a number that was actually reduced due to the state's allocation of teachers targeting the class size reductions in K-3.  As a result, our K-3 class sizes that were once the envy of area school systems are hovering near the state's limit and in one school I will have to seek a class size waiver as we will exceed those limits.  That $253,000 could have been used to fund that teacher to keep us under the state's limits, but instead, we will seek the waiver.  I think it bears mentioning that the class size limits are intended to help our students achieve and exceeding those limits cannot be congruous with that mission.”



2019-11-18 Email from Sara Bulla requesting class size waiver.pdf
“Good morning Mr. Bottoms asked me to poll the Board. 
We are requesting a class size waiver from the individual class size maximum for one third grade classroom at Morehead City Primary School.  This possibility was discussed in the areas of oversight this week.  We are one child over the maximum.  This one child moved into our district within the past month to increase the class to just over the maximum at 23 students.”



Career & College Promise program at CCC


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