A decision from state lawmakers to eliminate funding for the drivers education program is leaving many school districts scrambling for ways to fill the void. Clinton City Schools is one of them.
During a Monday evening work session for the Board of Education, Clyde Locklear, director of finance, presented a bid from North Carolina Driving School to handle the job of teaching student drivers. As of July 1, the General Assembly made a decision to shut down funding for drivers education, leaving funding for the program up to local school systems or parents or both.
“We talked this year about our drivers education program and the loss of funding,” Locklear told the board. “We did explore other options for providing the services and the associated cost.”
Locklear said the service consists of two components — classroom instruction and driving lessons and will provide vehicles, but not classroom space. The driving school will receive payment for the number of students in the program. He noted that the contract is for $200 per student and the program serves between 175 and 200 students each year. Currently the district is allowed to charge students up to $65 for drivers education.
“We would propose to continue to do that and we’ll pick up the cost or the difference, assuming nothing changes between now and July 1,” Locklear emphasized.
Currently, the cost for each student is between $350 and $360 per student. About $200 of that was coming from the state.
The vendor currently works with more than 30 school districts and serves 20,000 per year. Locklear said they’ve been in business since the early 1990s.
“They do have the background to provide the service to our students going forward,” he said.
Along with other districts,Clinton City Schools is unsure if they’re receiving any help from the state for the program.
“Based on that, it’ll be our responsibility to fully fund the program out of our local resources,” he said. “This contract gives us the option of doing that …”
The district has an option to renew the contract annually and,if approved, it will go into effect July 1.
“It’s basically a 12-month commitment at this time, but the contract does give either party the option of cancelling,” he said. “If they are not servicing us well, we would have the option of cancelling and if they’re not meeting the terms of the contract and moving to another direction.”
The Board of Education is scheduled to make a decision on the contract during its next meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, May 4, at the Sampson Middle School Media Center.