Topeka The Lawrence school district, like many across the state, is trying to figure out what to do about a substantial funding cut in its driver’s education program.
“We are going to have to increase fees, get extra support from the district or not continue,” said Patrick Kelly, who is in charge of driver’s education in the Lawrence district.
The problem is that earlier this year, the Kansas Legislature and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius approved a state budget that essentially raided a state safety fund that is paid for with a percentage of all driver’s license fees.
Money from that safety fund goes to help driver’s education programs. But the new budget included a little-known proviso that took $1.7 million and placed it in the state’s general fund to pay for various services.
Bottom line: School districts were previously getting $108 per student reimbursement for driver’s ed, but for the past summer’s program, the districts received only $38 per student.
“This was the first year it hit home,” said Kansas Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis. “They (school districts) got their first checks the first of November.”
Kelly said nearly 280 Lawrence students took driver’s ed last summer. The district is now facing a shortfall of approximately $20,000.
Now officials are trying to figure out how to pay for that.
Kelly said he hopes the district can continue offering driver’s education because it provides valuable training and instruction.
“We’d like to keep our streets safe,” he said.
Currently, the cost to a student to take driver’s ed is $120.