UPDATE: The Death of Driver’s Ed

By: Chris Long

Update September 17th:

The North Carolina State Legislature on Wednesday released their compromised budget which will resume Driver’s Education programs. The funding for this will come at the expense of drivers all across the state. The price of a driver’s license will increase from $15 per year to $20 per year. Over the course of seven years, this is an increase of $40 for a license. Driver’s Education will be resumed once Governor Pat McCrory signs the budget, which he says that he will do.

How would you feel if your first time behind the wheel of a vehicle was without any formal behind the wheel training? That’s what could happen if the new budget from North Carolina state Lawmakers does not include any funding for driver’s education. If this is the case, driver’s education may no longer be required for students to receive their Limited Learner’s Permit.

For decades, the state’s budget payed for all drivers education classes. However, starting in 2011, the state budget dropped part of the funding for driver’s education, and students had to start paying fees ranging from $45 in 2011 to $65 now. Starting this past July, the state dropped spending on driver’s education altogether, as a part of their temporary statewide spending plan. Whether the state will approve drivers ed on their permanent 2015-2016 statewide spending plan or not is still to be determined, but in the meantime school districts and parents have been eating the cost.

The full price of driver’s ed is about $300-400 per student. In July, WCPSS announced that they would begin charging students $65 per class, while the school system would cover the rest. This was done because the school system was fearful that the program would fall behind, and the wait list would be extremely long when the program restarted. This decision put WCPSS in the red. Since July 1st of this year, the system has payed about $500,000 for driver’s education and they anticipate that if the rate continued they would be paying about $250,000 per month. Due to the strain of the cost on the school system, WCPSS along with Jordan Driving School announced that all behind-the-wheel classes starting after August 21st would be suspended. Students who had enrolled in the class ahead of time would be able to complete the in-class portion, but would be unable to complete their behind-the-wheel portion until the state’s budget was passed.

This has left thousands of teens all across North Carolina unable to receive their Limited Learner’s Permit, and start the process of earning their full license. Jordan Driving School has announced on their website that they will soon be offering private driving and classroom lessons to fulfill the requirements of a Learner’s Permit. While this is a step in the right direction, many students will be unable to pay the full price to enroll in these classes. The full price has not yet been announced by Jordan Driving School, but if it is similar to what the school districts have been paying, the price will be about $300-400 per person. So, students unable to pay the full amount, must wait for state lawmakers to decide on a statewide spending plan (which was supposed to be done September 1st) and hope that drivers educating funding will be a part of it.