Improving schools will draw population


Donna L. Stott

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

I enjoy reading the paper, especially the opinion page. Peter Thomson writes columns on making Elizabeth City better, concentrating on the downtown area, waterfront and attracting people here. I agree the downtown area looks much better than two years ago, mainly because Debbie Malenfant has done a great job running Elizabeth City Downtown, Inc. But I think Mr. Thomson is way off on how we should attract people here to set down roots and live.

The priority for younger families with children is the schools. We have six schools that are under performing on test scores. Recently in the paper, parents were complaining about the temperature at Northside Elementary School. Yes, the waterfront is nicely landscaped and so is Elizabeth Street. Why isn’t that attention paid to our schools? If we want people to move here, we need better-paid teachers and teacher aides and more school volunteers. We also need our schools looking nice and presentable. Yet, Superintendent Larry Cartner asks for money every year and never gets it. 

When we transferred here in 1984, we checked out the schools. We had to buy a house in Camden County because the schools were better there. Now, it’s 2018 and the schools haven’t changed. Doctors with families check out our schools and won’t move here.

Mr. Thomson suggests we try to attract retirees here. Their children are grown, have a better income and can buy a home costing between $200,000 and $300,000. However, retirees are over 65 and generally need more medical care. Yet we don’t have a hospital. Instead we have a medical center. Seven out of 10 times if you’re sick or hurt, you are transferred to Virginia.

Because of the lack of doctors, Sentara Albemarle Medical Center uses a revolving system of doctors. If my primary care doctor sends me to the medical center to be admitted, I see one doctor first, then the surgeon, and then another doctor for my follow-up care. My primary care doctor (who is also part of Sentara) is wonderful but if I’m sick I can’t get an appointment. So, I have to go to Next Care for all my sick visits, where I often see the same physician. Elizabeth City has no psychiatrist for adults or children, no neurologist, and is in need of a gastroenterologist. Virginia is not far but if you’re 70, 75, 80 years old, getting there is difficult.

We have lived here off and on since 1973 and settled here in 1995. We had planned to live and die here. However, despite both of us being 68 and in fair health, we are in frequent need of good medical care. To get it, we may have to relocate. If City Council and the Board of Education had put people’s education and health care before anything else, we would be attracting more people. Instead, we are headed in the wrong direction.  

Donna L. Stott

Elizabeth City 

Editor’s note: While not giving Elizabeth City-Superintendent Larry Cartner all of the local funding he requested for the current school year, Pasquotank commissioners did approve a 1-cent property tax increase this year that helped raise spending on the local schools by $900,000. Commissioners also agreed to finance $1 million in school capital projects.