Driver’s ed to cost

Published 1:22 am Sunday, August 21, 2011

Learning to drive will come with a cost for students in Beaufort County’s public schools this fall.
Starting with the school year that begins Wednesday, students taking driver’s-education courses offered through Beaufort County Schools will join thousands of others statewide who will be charged a $45 fee for the course.
The new charge is the result of recent cuts in funds allocated to the state’s public schools by the N.C. General Assembly earlier this year, according to Joe Tkach, athletics director and driver’s-education coordinator for the county’s schools.
The Beaufort County Board of Education recently voted 8-1 to implement the fee, with board member Teressa Banks casting the sole dissenting vote.
The fee will not be charged to those students who took the classroom portion of the course this summer.
Tkach told the board that without the charge, the local school system would not be able to afford to buy the driver’s-manual textbooks used by students in the classroom.
School systems in Carteret, Craven, Johnston, Wake, Washington and Wilson counties are among many others that will implement the fee, according to information presented to the board.
Beaufort County Schools contracts with North Carolina Driving School Inc. of Winterville to provide driver’s education to county students.
North Carolina requires drivers under 18 to complete driver’s-education courses offered either by the local public-school system or a private driver’s-education school. The course, available to those students who are at least 14 1/2 years old on the first day of class, includes 30 hours of classroom instruction followed by in-car instruction sessions that include periods of driving and periods of observation, according to the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles.
North Carolina residents under the age of 18 must hold a learner’s permit for a minimum of six months and complete a state-approved driver’s-education program before applying for a license. Residents 18 and older who have never held a license from any U.S. state or foreign country must hold a learner’s permit for a minimum of 30 days and complete a state-approved driver’s-education program before applying for a license.
Other legislative changes to driver’s-education programs in the state include a new requirement that a student log 60 hours of training time with a supervising adult or parent before her or she may move from a learner’s permit to a driver’s license.
Once the student has a driver’s license, he or she must keep another log and show 20 hours of practice with a supervising adult to have a 9 p.m. restriction removed, according to North Carolina Driving School Inc.