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Pitt County schools direct money to after-school programs

PITT COUNTY, NC (WITN) — Many parents know how virtual learning is setting students back across the country. Now Pitt County School Board members are investing money to make up for those losses.

They do this by investing in after-school programs that the area already has. WITN has spoken with district leaders and program organizers to find out where this money will go.

“It’s a priority to help with the learning loss we’ve seen since 2020,” said outreach and public relations director Beth Ulffers.

The students, although back at their desks, try to make up for lost time. Teachers often have a responsibility to help them catch up, but they don’t have to do it alone.

Schools in Pitt County are trying to help by bolstering two after-school programs that already exist: the Bethel Youth Center and the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain.

“Both programs have strong models. They focus on reading, writing, math. They have STEM activities. They have arts enrichment activities and they also have a physical education component,” Ulffers explained.

Kimberly Reaves is the CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain. In Pitt County alone, they work with about a thousand students and they expect to grow.

“We served about 300 more people in our organization on the first day of school this year than we did on the first day of school last year,” Reaves said.

She said the impact of online learning is not just academic.

“We see a change in behavior, we see a change in mentality. And I’m sure the school system can also attest to having additional difficulty dealing with behavioral issues, not just academic issues,” Reaves said.

This year, PCS will donate $85,000 to the Bethel Youth Center, which serves 64 students. The school district will also provide $500,000 to the county’s five Boys and Girls Club locations over a two-year period, giving $250,000 each year. They hope that with each investment, making up for lost time becomes more and more possible.

“We are extremely excited to learn of the new funding that will be provided to us to support learning beyond the classroom,” said Dr. Garrie W. Moore, CEO of Bethel Youth Activity Center. “We are a STEM center focused on student success.”

Moore said the new funding will be used to expand and improve programming, expand its literacy program to include more technology, acquire equipment to support activities outside the classroom, expand recreational programs and bring additional students to the center.

“It gives hope, opportunity and exposure to those who might not normally get it,” Reaves said.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Coastal Plain serves a total of 7 counties. This money will only go to their five Pitt County locations.

The funding came to the school district of Esser funds., which are in the CARES Act. The law aims to address the impact of COVID-19 on elementary and secondary schools across the country.

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Margarita W. Wilson

The author Margarita W. Wilson