Pitt Co. Schools receive millions to improve teacher retention, effectiveness

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Pitt County Schools is being rewarded for thinking outside the box with state and federal grants from the government.

The federal grant is $16.2 million over the next five years. It aims to help Pitt County better recruit, retain and reward its teachers.

Thomas Feller Jr., Director of Professional Learning and Leadership Development for Pitt County Schools, said they first had to figure out why teachers left to begin with.

“Number one I don’t make enough money. I need a way to make more money, and we hear that a lot, you hear that a lot in education,” he said. “But the other one we heard was influence, I want to do more.”

After finding that out, the school district created a program called the Career Pathways Program, which allows teachers who want a bigger role to brainstorm and solve problems. As a reward, those teachers receive a 15 percent pay increase.

The state grant, worth a little under $5 million over the next four years, exempts Pitt County Schools from the class size reduction law, which the General Assembly passed to limit how many students were in each class. This grant, given to six districts across the state, was a way for lawmakers to see what program was most effective.

The idea behind it was to get as many students with the best teachers as possible.

“If you’ve got a really strong science teacher in 5th grade, why doesn’t that science teacher teach all of the students science,” said Feller.

Parents seem on board with the idea.

“We’re strengthening the success of our students, and that’s what really matters,” said Kylene Dibble, who has a child in Kindergarten and 3rd grade.

Dibble said while the idea of smaller class sizes sounds good, it also comes at a cost.

“When we look at smaller class sizes, we look at cutting things like art, music P.E.,” she said.

By exempting Pitt County Schools, Dibble thinks students will still get an excellent education, but not at the expense of the arts.

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