Driver's Education Funding in Limbo

Post date: Jul 9, 2015 6:06:37 PM

North Carolina has traditionally provided funds to school districts to pay for driver’s education. However, at this time, lawmakers are undecided on whether or not they will continue to fund this program.

This uncertainty has left school systems and students wondering who will pay for the required training. Because guaranteed state funding ran out when the 2014-15 fiscal year ended June 30, many school systems across the state have placed a halt to all driver’s education classes until the question of funding is answered by the state legislature.

Despite this uncertainty in funding, the Yancey County School Board has decided to allow students in the current summer program to complete the full program, earning the necessary requirements to obtain their licenses. If the state’s final budget does not include driver education funding then Yancey County Schools will have to cover the cost of these students completing their driving requirements, estimated at around $4,000. Because the students began the program under last year’s funding the board has agreed to allow the students to complete the training over the summer. According to Superintendent Tony Tipton, “We believe it is only fair to allow this group of students to continue and complete their driver’s education requirements, these students should not be punished because the state legislature has not decided what to do with driver’s education.

The Senate and House have approved a temporary budget to run the state government until Aug. 14th. However, the temporary budget does not include money to fund driver’s education.

The two legislative bodies are far apart on how to fund drivers’ education. The current House budget would continue state funding for driver’s ed. while the Senate budget ends the funding.

Currently the law states that school system will charge parents up to $65 to help off-set the cost for each student to take the training. School systems across the state contract with an outside company to oversee and conduct the driver’s education program. This includes the workbook session and the actual driving part of the program. The two big questions students, parents, and the school systems have for the legislature is who will pay for driver’s ed. and will driver’s education still be required to obtain a drivers license before the age of 18 if it is not funded?

Yancey County Schools will not schedule future classes until the NC General Assembly decides the future of funding for driver’s education.