Parents, educators, Board of Education members  and community members came to the recent Pitt County Board of Commissioners annual budget meeting to advocate for public school funding. Many speakers stressed the need to fully fund the school district’s request in order to retain current school staffing levels and to increase security measures. Commissioners ultimately voted to approve a budget $690,000 short of PCS’ request.

At the meeting, PCS Superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker also raised the issue of increasing law enforcement presence in our schools. Lenker told county lawmakers it would cost about $2 million to put law enforcement in every school.  He suggested the county take advantage of a recently passed state grant program that matches local dollars to pay for school resource officers. “If the county commissioners give us one dollar, then the state will give us two. If we have 400,000 dollars, then that will give us 1.2 million,” Lenker said. “That’s one way to help fund some of these things.”

County Commissioners recently approved $988,000 in funding for the construction of secure entry corridors in all Pitt County Schools. The secure corridors, already in place at Chicod School and Lakeforest Elementary, feature an outer set of doors that a visitor must be buzzed through after requesting entry through a video/audio system. The visitor then enters a locked waiting area where an attendant at a check-in window checks their credentials and logs them in before allowing them entrance to the main building. Construction of the secure entry corridors has begun at all six high schools in Pitt County and should be completed by the time students return to classes in late August. After the  high schools, open-campus schools like Elmhurst and Wahl-Coates Elementary School will be next to receive the corridors, then schools that are not in close proximity to law enforcement.