IOW schools to phase out portion of driver’s ed

Published 10:41 am Saturday, July 10, 2010

ISLE OF WIGHT—The Isle of Wight County School Board voted Thursday to stop offering the behind-the-wheel portion of driver’s education to students in the 2011-2012 school year.

School Superintendent Dr. Michael McPherson recommended that behind-the-wheel instruction be offered in the coming school year, but phased out for the following year. The School Board approved the recommendation with a vote of 4-1, with Hardy District member Herb DeGroft dissenting.

McPherson said the school division currently spends more than $60,000 per year on the behind-the-wheel portion of driver’s education. Student fees cover about half of that amount, he said.

A state formula determines how much the district can charge for behind-the-wheel instruction. McPherson said students paid about $155 for instruction.

In light of tight budgets, and the fact that only 48 percent of eligible students are able to take advantage of the program, McPherson said it was best to discontinue it. He said students could use private driving schools for behind-the-wheel instruction.

School Board Chairman David Goodrich said some surrounding school districts had, in the past, resorted to pulling students out of classes for behind-the-wheel instruction.

“That’s defeating the whole purpose,” he said. “We certainly don’t want to get into that position.”

DeGroft said the amount spent on driver’s education was “money well spent” considering the safety issues associated with teenage drivers.

Vice Chairman Kenneth Bunch, who represents the Carrsville District, said students would get the same training from private driving schools.

Board members plan to revisit the issue before the next budget cycle to look at possibly reinstating it.