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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Drivers education, a rite of passage for many teens, is losing state funding and putting the financial burden on schools.

This has parents, students and educators wondering how safe our roads will be once the state stops fueling the program.

“If we were to do our jobs the way our politicians do their jobs, we would lose our jobs,” Laney High School drivers ed teacher Alan Sewell said.

This is because state leaders decided starting in July 2015 drivers education will no longer be paid out of the Highway Fund. Instead, local school boards will have to foot the bill. On top of that, schools can only charge each student a fee of up to $65 to offset the cost of the course, but Sewell says that won’t cover the expenses.

If school districts cannot help, Sewell says kids could be spending up to $400 for a course through a private driving school. If they can’t afford it, they have to wait until they turn 18 to get their license.

Without the drivers ed course she is taking this summer, student Kyra Bradley says her first day on the road would have been completely different. Bradley paid $25 for her course, but if the price goes up, she says many won’t take drivers ed at all.

“Not a lot of kids will take it, and they’ll wait, and they won’t be as comfortable, and probably they will get in more car wrecks,” she said.

In one the most dangerous counties in North Carolina to drive in, parent Barry Key, who is also a Wilmington Police captain, worries simple mistakes could cause major accidents.

“Without the proper training and experience, you get a lot of people that are not paying attention, they’re easily distracted, or not understanding the road itself,” Key said.

New Hanover County Schools Deputy Superintendent Dr. Rick Holliday says the $65 fee for students will not even come close to covering the cost of drivers ed. He says the district will have to do some serious pencil sharpening to figure out how they will fund the course.

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7 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: State budget puts brakes on drivers ed funding"

beach guy
2015 years 9 months ago

If you do not have $400 for the class you probably do not have the couple of thousand a year for insurance
I think that if the school system would confer with the utilities commission they could probably cut a deal with the insurance companies to pay for the classes since it would be adding thousands of new drivers to policies two years sooner than if they had to wait until they are 18.
Or the insurance companies could donate the money and the cars and write it off their taxes. I can see it now a brightly painted student driver car with the Allstate or state farm logo on it. you could probably get local agencies to donate a leased car for the advertising. You are already paying the Drivers Ed instructor or even have the insurance companies have safe driving lectures as part of the curriculum.
Or better yet have the insurance companies certify the instructors.
They could offer a little better rate to the parents of the new driver if they use their insurance company for the new driver going through their course and if they use them for the rest of their insurance needs like homeowner policies and the like.
It would be a perfect example of private industries and public entities working together to mutually benefit each other.
I know it would work better than some school employee whining about it on camera

2015 years 9 months ago

Wasn’t that money used for the golf course part of a bond? Don’t they have to use that money for the purpose for which it was earmarked? But you point doesn’t fit here. That money is the city’s money. This is about the state’s money.

A bigger issue is that the state is giving so much money for the film industry when our schools could really benefit from that money. It’s not the only wasteful spending being done at the state level.

2015 years 9 months ago

. . . gets $162,000 in funding for new sod. It’s absolutely no wonder NC Schools rank nearly at the bottom nationally. According to the article (see link below), “Only three states are expected to spend less per student than North Carolina in the current school year, according to the latest rankings from the National Education Association.” And “The state also ranks No. 48 in teacher salary among the 50 states and District of Columbia. . .” Where are our priorities?? And everyone wonders why we have a youth violence problem. Yeah, let’s keep cutting back on teachers & schools . . . we should be ashamed.


2015 years 9 months ago

But the film industry gets their share………..what a bunch of dysfunctional morons we have running this state.

2015 years 9 months ago

I’m being tongue in cheek here.. but didn’t they show you movies in driver’s ed?

2015 years 9 months ago

…because there isn’t a darned thing in “drivers education” that will stop these morons from texting and emailing while driving anyway.

Wonder how many died or were permanently maimed today due to someone that doesn’t have the common sense or courtesy to realize that if you’re looking at your phone you can’t see to drive and avoid accidents?

I witnessed 4 of those oblivious and careless drivers on my way home from work just today. Getting really tired of it.

2015 years 9 months ago

You left out people that have their seat reclined like they are watching a football game, people with no seat belt on, people that don’t watch others around them to anticipate stupid moves by them or all the other things “Defensive Driving” entails. Is that a failure of Driver’s Ed or Society? I have no clue but I lean towards society and the dumbing down of America plus the “it’s always someone else’s fault I should sue” mentality.

Late 70’s Driver’s Ed taught defensive driving, safety etc. riding motorcycles gave me more insight into anticipating the worst anyone around me in traffic could do (and often did!) before it happened. This needs to be taught again; situational awareness and planning/reactions have saved my neck more than once.


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