County driver’s ed a go despite possible funding cuts

Published 6:48 pm Wednesday, July 1, 2015

At least 43 of the 115 school districts in North Carolina have decided to suspend driver’s education classes for the summer due to uncertainties within the N.C. General Assembly about funding. Beaufort County Schools, however, will continue classes as planned.

Reggie Flythe, who is a consultant for the state Department of Public Instruction, said 30 districts have not responded to a survey regarding the fate of their driver’s education classes, so there may be more suspensions to come.

The temporary budget approved by the General Assembly on Tuesday does not provide money for the classes at this point, as the proposed House budget continues funding, but the Senate’s proposed budget cuts funding and transfers the classes to community colleges.

Joe Tkach, who coordinates driver’s education for the county, said loss of funding could mean costs of the classes per student rising, possibly up to around $300.

“We really are waiting on the state,” he said. “We won’t know until the General Assembly decides what to do.”

Despite the possible cuts, funding was still dispersed on June 30, Tkach said.

Sarah Hodges, public information officer for Beaufort County Schools, said in an email that the county will have driver’s education classes through August as planned.

In the past, the school district hasn’t funded students’ driver’s education classes and has only offered a stipend for the staff member who oversees the program for the county, she said.

Despite this, Hodges said the district will provide funds in an effort to help families of the students taking the classes with the costs. The money will come from the district’s general fund.

“We will have to reassess what to do once more specific information is available from Raleigh,” she said in the email. “We encourage residents to contact their representative in Raleigh and voice their concerns for the costs this could put on families.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.