On the street
They had a brake on the passenger side, and anytime I did anything at all out of the ordinary, they would slam on the brakes. The first time they did it, I thought I was going to die.
Lawrence school board members gave the green light to the driver’s education program at their meeting Monday night, but it will cost students $80 more to get behind the wheel.
Currently, it costs $120 for a student to take driver’s education and the district’s general fund has a $10,000 contingency for the program. The board decided to raise the cost to $200 and continue to provide the contingency fund.
Three board members — Rich Minder, Scott Morgan and Linda Robinson — voted against the initial motion to raise the price to $250 per student and to discontinue the contingency fund. However, both Morgan and Robinson voted for the raise to $200 with the contingency. Minder voted no. Board President Craig Grant was absent.
“My concern about raising prices to the point where it’s the same problem as before, this isn’t really public education,” Minder said. “Some people can afford to get this and some people can’t.”
The members did agree on the importance of the driver’s education program.
“I think it’s one of the most valuable things we teach,” Robinson said.
Morgan said driver’s ed falls outside the core curriculum, but remains vital. “We’ve got a number of things beyond the core group that we know are important to kids,” he said. “I put driver’s ed into that.”
The price raise will go into effect for the summer 2009 session.
The reason for reviewing the driver’s ed program was the decrease in state funding. The district used to get $88 per student, but that was dropped to $38 a student.
“That put us about $20,000 in the hole,” said Patrick Kelly, the fine arts, career and technical education curriculum specialist who oversees the driver’s ed program.
The program will also set a minimum number of students in order to continue.
“If we don’t reach our minimum, then we won’t be offering it,” Kelly said. The minimum number was not set at the meeting.
The board also wants to conduct a study on what things are important to teach in driver’s ed and how the program can be the most effective.
“We need to do some further study ... on cost and curriculum,” said board member Marlene Merrill.
The board also agreed that the issue of driver’s ed will be a continuing topic to talk about.
“I like to see this as the start to a very important discussion,” Morgan said.
On another topic, the board denied a charter to the Lawrence Community Environmental School.
Deputy Superintendent Bruce Passman cited issues that overshadow the charter, including time, resources, funding uncertainties and the district’s search for a superintendent to replace Randy Weseman, who is retiring at the end of the school year.
“The timing is not good right now,” Passman said.