Driver’s Ed Fees Approved for 2015-16 School Year

Facing the potential of an unfunded state mandate to provide driver’s education to all eligible teenagers in Guilford County, the GCS Board of Education approved a proposal to start charging students for the training.

This year, GCS received more than $1.3 million dollars from the state highway fund to pay for driver’s education, which the state requires the district to provide to all eligible teens, regardless of where they go to school. However, that money was cut from the state budget, leaving districts around the state with the bill. State lawmakers are considering bills that would replace the funding from other sources, but at this point nothing has been approved.

Driver’s education is expected to cost the district approximately $226 per student, or just under $1.2 million to instruct the 5,300 students expected to register. To make up some of the difference, the board approved a plan that would start charging each student $65 to take the course, bringing GCS’ portion of the bill to approximately $847,286.

“We don’t want to charge our students,” said Leigh Hebbard, director of athletics and driver’s education. “We’ve worked hard these past few years not to charge students, but we need to make up for the state funding somehow.”

“Parents need to understand this is yet another cut to your children’s education and public schools,” said board member Linda Welborn. “I’m telling my parents they have to move toward their legislators that they have to start funding traditional public schools which are and will continue to serve the majority of students. We want to give you the services you deserve, but our hands are tied.”

In his recommended budget Superintendent Maurice “Mo” Green includes the additional cost in the funding request to county commissioners. The school board is in the process of reviewing the superintendent’s recommended budget and will submit their official request to the board of county commissioners later this month.