Driver’s ed cuts affect students, teachers, and SCC

By Eva Queen - equeen@civitasmedia.com

A move by the General Assembly to eliminate funding for driver’s education programs in North Carolina public high schools — and possibly putting a similar program in the state’s community colleges — will affect teachers as well as students.

Bill Hart, a civics teacher at East Surry High School who recently gave up his job as soccer coach in order to teach driver’s education, is one.

“I love teaching, I love being in the car with the kids, teaching them what I feel is an invaluable lesson,” said Hart.

However, now that driver’s education has been suspended and possibly permanently cut, Hart and 12 more instructors are having to find new sources of income. Most coaching positions pay a small stipend, as does driver’s education instruction.

Hart thought that by dropping his position as a soccer coach and becoming a driver’s education teacher he was being provided the opportunity to spend more time with his family and children while still supplementing his full-time income.

“Now, if the county permanently suspends the program, I’m going to have to go to the community college and ask for a job,” Hart joked.

As a parent, Hart also expressed concern about how hard the change would be on his family. He has three children: a 15-year-old son, a 13-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son.

“Its going to be a financial strain on our family to fully cover the cost of driver’s education training, especially for three children.”

Hart’s 15-year-old son is already behind on receiving his driving permit as the family and the schools wait to get a definite answer from the state on the final budget decision.

“The worst part is not knowing, waiting to see some sort of resolution,” said Hart

Barry Hall, a former baseball coach and athletic director at East Surry, also spoke on the possibility of the funding being cut.

“I feel for the families, parents and students. We do a good job as a district to support our kids, but I don’t see this being supported if it’s not funded by the state,” Hall said.

Hall said he knew of one female student who paid more than $250 for just the driving portion of the test. “I can’t imagine families being able to afford to pay the full cost of the program, especially with more than one child.”

The state senate has proposed for the driver’s education funding to be cut from the public schools and moved to community colleges, which places a strain on the community colleges to try to get the programs up and running, according to David Shockley, president of Surry Community College.

“Overall community colleges don’t want to an unfunded mandated program,” he said recently.

A resolution for driver’s education funding has not been made by the state legislature. A decision could come as late as October. The suspension of the program has placed students behind at least six months, according to Travis Reeves, superintendent for Surry County Schools.

By Eva Queen

equeen@civitasmedia.com

Reach Eva Queen at (336) 415-4739 or equeen@civitasmedia.com

Reach Eva Queen at (336) 415-4739 or equeen@civitasmedia.com