Guilford County Schools to pay for suspended driver’s ed classes; no new classes this summer

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. – School board members in the Triad’s biggest school district will pay to help about 1,000 students complete their driver’s education class this summer.

Classes were suspended this month with money for the program drying up. The Senate version of the budget would cut driver’s education altogether while the House would keep funding alive.

Many students still need to complete the “driving” portion of the class after finishing the instructional portion in April, May and June. No new driver’s education classes will start this summer.

Many school board members felt because the classes were halfway complete the appropriate thing to do would be to allow students to finish the class. There were also concerns about a backlog for the class stretching into the school year. The school district averages about 5,300 students through the program every year.

The school district approved between $113,000 - $120,600 to pay for the behind the wheel instruction.

Still, much of the school board voiced frustration Tuesday night over being forced to pay for a program that a least a portion of state lawmakers don’t want to fund. There was discussion that if driver’s education funding is approved by the state some of that money could help the school district recover a portion of the money it’s using to finish the driving program this summer.

“Hopefully by then we'll have a clearer definition from the legislature as to what it’s going to pay for,” said Alan Duncan, Chairman of the Guilford County School Board. “This is not something we can easily pay.”

Finance leaders for the school district believe if the school were to lose driver’s education funding it would be a $1.3 million hit to the district.

State lawmakers have allowed school districts to charge parents for the class but have capped the amount they can charge at $65. School leaders said the estimated cost of the class for the upcoming school year is $226 per student.

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