Pitt County is widely synonymous with East Carolina University and Vidant Medical Center – both landmarks within the rural eastern county. Despite the pride and ever-changing landscape of the county’s major city due to these widely known entities, long-standing unmet needs plague the surrounding area.
Most notably, public schools across Pitt County are impacted by funding inequities, resulting in many classrooms without resources, updated technology, and lacking teachers and support staff.
Lauren Piner, a high school World History teacher in Pitt County and native of eastern North Carolina, knows all too well about the challenges rural teachers and schools face as inequities continue to pile up.
Piner has seen poor working conditions, inadequate resources, and a lack of respect for educators, leading many of her colleagues to leave the profession. With 11 years of teaching experience under her belt, Piner knows that quality public schools can open the doors to a whole new world of opportunities for her students.
To Piner, schools would benefit from investments towards sustainability, including increased teacher pay and resources, that would attract highly qualified educators to the state; updating and improving school classrooms and facilities conditions to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment; and increasing the number of school counselors, psychologists, and nurses.
“I want my niece, who is in a public school Spanish immersion program, to be able to go to school in a building built for the 21st century and beyond. Her classmates and all students in North Carolina deserve to have qualified teachers who are invested in the profession, the school, and the community,” stated Piner. “If we don’t want our best and brightest in our classrooms, what does that say about our priorities?”
For Pitt County, investments as recommended in the Leandro comprehensive remedial plan, would address many of these long-standing issues. If implemented, Pitt County schools would receive the following increases in education funding by 2028:
- 138% increase in instructional support funding
- 49% increase in funding for teaching assistants
- 140% increase in funding for textbooks and classroom supplies
“During COVID, we all saw just how important public schools are to our economy. The Leandro plan addresses all of these issues and more,” stated Piner. “We know what we need to do, and now we must do it.”
Four seats on the Pitt County Board of Education will be up for election on Nov. 8. For more information on how and where to vote, visit the Pitt County Board of Elections website.