Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools
Driver's education in schools will now cost $45
(Reprinted with permission from The Enquirer-Journal)
Driverâ€™s education through Union County Public Schools is no longer free; students must pay $45 to participate.
UCPS received $836,600 last year for driver training. State budget cuts chopped $176,254, or about 21 percent of funding. The Board of Education unanimously put the fee in place Tuesday.
Member John Collins reluctantly voted in favor of the change. Collins said he hates to impose another expense on families, but the cost is still â€œa bargainâ€ compared to private instruction.
Private instruction prices vary, but typically cost about $350, driverâ€™s ed coordinator Jerry Cross said.
Faulknerâ€™s Driving School in Matthews charges $300 for in-class instruction and driving. Thatâ€™s a $100 discount due to the bad economy.
Most recent classes have been full, owner Paul Faulkner said. Some students opt for private classes if their schedules conflict with a schoolâ€™s driverâ€™s ed program.
About 2,500 Union County students went through driverâ€™s ed last year, Cross said.
Cross is glad to see the fee imposed; without it, the program could accommodate fewer students.
There is no formal arrangement for families who canâ€™t afford the fee, Superintendent Ed Davis said. Some parents and educators say the fee wonâ€™t be a problem.
â€œForty-five dollars is a reasonable charge as compared to going to a private facility,â€ Michele Schellhorn said.
Schellhornâ€™s son went through driverâ€™s ed last summer at Weddington High.
â€œIt was convenient and cost-effective,â€ she said.
Cross doesnâ€™t anticipate many problems with the fee, either. Driverâ€™s ed also carries benefits, like discounts on insurance premiums, he said.
Residents under 18 must take driverâ€™s ed to get a license. In addition to classroom time, public programs require 12 hours of in-car instruction â€” six hours each of actual driving and observation. Private programs include six hours of driving, but observation is not required.
Union County has about 50 driverâ€™s ed cars driven daily, about 10 spares and nearly 50 instructors â€” most who work in the school system and teach driverâ€™s ed on the side, Cross said.
Effective July 1, state driverâ€™s ed programs follow the same curriculum, instead of choosing from a handful of approved curriculums. Programs are accountable to the N.C. Department of Transportation and the State Department of Public Instruction, Cross said.
- North Carolina residents under 18 must hold a learnerâ€™s permit for at least six months and complete a state-approved driverâ€™s ed program before applying for a new license.
- Driverâ€™s ed is offered through public and private programs, all of which must be approved by the N.C. Department of Transportation. Driving schools, licensed by the Division of Motor Vehicles, cover the same course content.
- All licensed programs must include 30 hours of classroom time, focusing on alcohol safety, drug abuse awareness, defensive driving, motorcycle awareness and organ and tissue donation. They must also include in-car instruction.
â€” N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles
Written by: Tiffany Jothen, Enquirer-Journal reporter
Posted: Aug 09, 2011 by Don Mace