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Surveys show growing satisfaction with school system

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K-5 ELA Curriculum Coach Alan Becker leads a session during the Pitt County Schools Teacher Curriculum Institute at E.B. Aycock last August. Participants in recent forums on the school think teachers need more training opportunities.


By Sharieka Botex
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

More than 500 people who participated in a series of forums indicated they were increasingly satisfied with Pitt County Schools but wanted the system to have more welcoming campuses, better marketing, more books and printed learning material, more teacher training, more volunteer opportunities and a life skills curriculum.

The Community Conversations conducted between May 2016 to April of this year were organized by the Pitt County Parents for Public Schools. The nonprofit group presented a report generated from the conversations to the Board of Education on June 5.

”The biggest finding I think we saw is the needle on public education is moving, that people are for the most part are very happy with what’s happening in public school,” Kylene Dibble, the group’s executive director said in an interview on Monday. “We found that people really value the teachers and the administrators in the schools, that they not only feel like they are doing a good job teaching, that they feel like their children, are safe, nurtured and well-cared for in the schools.”

Dibble said there were 511 participants in the conversations, including 320 parents and community members, 143 teachers and 48 students. Fifty-four percent of participants were white, 41 percent were black, 3 percent were Hispanic and 2 percent were listed as other. she said. Female participants outnumbered male participation by 60 to 40 percent. 

“We’ve tried very hard to have conversations in multiple areas of the county, so we are reaching as many demographics as possible,” Dibble said about the forums, which are ongoing. “I would love for anyone willing to have a community conversation to contact me. We are willing to do a community conversation with any group in Pitt County that would have us.” 

Facilitators asked participants what the school system was doing really well, what pressing needs they saw are and about parent involvement. Parents were asked why they send their child to public, private and charter schools and their experience with Pitt County Schools. Students were asked what their dream school looks like. Teachers specifically were asked how they felt about new schools, open enrollment and redistricting. 

While parents and community members commended teachers, technological support and communication and were pleased with infrastructure and campus safety, they want more resources to contribute to students’ overall success. They indicated the school system should supply better textbooks and more school supplies. They wanted smaller class sizes and more teachers as well.

Participants noted that they had a positive experience at the elementary level, but felt less valued as their children approach middle and high school. Findings revealed that students were open to having their parents more involved but would prefer the involvement to be in extracurricular rather than in the classroom. 

“As far as needs ... one of the top themes and recommendations was life skills classes, from parents to teachers to students,” Dibble said. “They would like more opportunities to learn about life from everything to financial literacy to how to change a tire.”

Students who participated said they wanted more choices, from open enrollment to the number of classes. They indicated a strong desire for revisions to the uniform policy along with schools taking a more active role in recycling and caring for the environment.     

Teachers in the surveys said that more training programs would help them cope with behavior and learning obstacles. They saw pros and cons to open enrollment, redistricting and building new schools.  “Those in rural schools felt the open enrollment sometimes hurts a rural or low performing school and can leave one school with more behavior issues than another school,” according to the report. 

Parents expressed strong support for open enrollment. “Parents have an understanding of the process and enrollment caps and felt that open enrollment allows families to redistrict themselves instead of the school district doing it for them,” the report said. 

All groups interviewed agreed that campuses should be more welcoming.

”A suggestion was made that maybe schools can develop small beatification teams, which would also address another need that arose, that parents want to be involved as volunteers as much as possible,” Dibble said. “Maybe if schools developed, beautification teams, made up of teachers and parents and administrators, they can do small things throughout the year, just to make the school a physically and environmentally welcoming place from the moment you see it.”

Parents also said the school system need to a better job of marketing its programs and learning opportunities a time when it is competing with charter and private schools.

“We have entered the time when education is a competition and we are competing with charter schools and private schools,” Dibble said. “We need to make sure we are marketing the great things happening with Pitt County Schools in an effective way, so we are thinking about sending flyers and brochures to day care that would help parents know more about the public schools before they start making their choices, between what type of school they are going to enroll their child in.”

Sometimes there are misperceptions about what’s happening in the schools, Dibble said, so she encourages parents to get involved with her organization. Interested individuals can visit http://ppspittcounty.org to learn more.

Contact Sharieka Botex at 252-329-9567 and sbotex@reflector.com. Follow her on Twitter @ShariekaB.