Dr. Randy Bledsoe, Superintendent of Elkin City Schools, provided information to the ECS Board of Education at the March 26 meeting regarding the Driver Education program. Currently, the program is expected to cost the school system over an estimated $25,000.00 for the upcoming school year. During the past ten years, state funding has decreased and more pressure has been placed on the budget to supplement additional funds in the Driver Education program. In 2002-2003, Elkin City Schools was only responsible for $4,500.00 for the program. For the 2011-2012 school year the school system is responsible for almost $23,000.00. Legislation (§ 115C‑216,g) has been provided to allow school systems to charge a minimal fee for Driver Instruction.
(The local boards of education may charge each student participating in a driver education course a fee of up to forty‑five dollars ($45.00) to offset the costs of providing the training and instruction.)
Elkin City Schools averages 100 students per year who take the Student Driver Education course. The cost of $45.00 per student represents a total savings per year of $4,500.00. Dr. Bledsoe made the following statement, “Our responsibility is to investigate new avenues of funding so that we can maintain the service to all students. Due to the current financial climate, the lack of funding from the state level is cutting more and more into our local school funds. This student fee will assist us in off-setting these types of costs to our school system. I have researched current costs of everyday expenses and have found that the $45 is less than a full tank of gasoline, less than a pair of jeans or a skirt, and less than one Wii game in our economy. I have also had contact with several school systems across the state that have implemented the cost per student or are in current discussion with their boards of education.”
The information has been placed before the public for their awareness and discussion. If adopted by the Board of Education at the April meeting, students who enroll in the Student Driver Education program in the 2012 school year will be responsible for paying the $45 fee when the student begins the on-road driving lessons. Provisions will be provided to assist students who are on Free or Reduced Lunch. The waiver of fees must be proposed to the principal of the high school by the student prior to taking the Driver Education program. The board will determine if the fee is to begin in July for the 2012-2013 school year at the April 16, 2012 meeting which begins at 6:00PM at the ECS Administrative Building.