Board of education puts brakes on driver’s ed program

Published 10:44 pm Wednesday, July 1, 2015

In the June 29 meeting of the Polk County Board of Education, members decided to allow the driver’s education program to expire.

 In the most recent 2015-2017 budget unveiled by the North Carolina Senate, driver’s education would no longer be funded by the state. Despite the House proposing to keep funding the locally run driver’s ed programs, Senate leaders pushed to move the program to community colleges, and have shown no interest in further funding the program at the high school level.

 Students currently enrolled in the driver’s education program will be able to finish, but new students will not be accepted after July 1.

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 “I’m sure it’s frustrating,” said Polk County School Superintendent Bill Miller. “All of us remember how anxious we were to get our license when we were 15.”

 Polk County previously contracted with Mountain Professionals Inc. for the training. The company will continue to offer training to students at an estimated fee of $300 to parents, according to Miller. Previously, a $40 fee was charged to enroll, with the state subsidizing the rest.

 “It will impact students who play sports the most,” explained Miller,  “especially athletes that play two or three sports. They don’t have time to take driver’s training, so we try to pack them into the summer and get them done.”

 On Tuesday, June 30, North Carolina Governor Pat McRory signed a continuing resolution and set a deadline of August 14 for the final budget.

 The board must now wait on the state’s decision to decide the final fate of the program.

 “None of us anticipated that we may not have a budget for months,” said Miller.