Education

Cumberland schools looks at funding alternatives for driver's ed

Posted March 5, 2015

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— State funding cuts for driver's education has Cumberland County Schools considering new ways to pay for the program.

For decades, the state has used Highway Trust Fund money to pay school districts to provide the classes, but lawmakers cut off all state funding for driver's education as of July.

Despite the loss, school systems will still be required to provide driver's education classes. Driver's education is required for anyone younger than 18 who wants to get a driver's license.

Cumberland County Schools, which enrolls about 4,000 students into the program each year, will lose $700,000.

"That means we would have to find that by looking at cutting teachers and other things," school Superintendent Frank Till said Thursday.

Phil McGirt, driver's education coordinator for the school system, says one solution might be to pass along the cost to students, who currently pay a fee of about $45 for the course.

"That fee could go up as high as the total amount that driver's education costs, which is about $395 a student," McGirt said.

Another option could be shifting school start times in an effort to save money.

Al Miller, executive director of the school system's transportation department, says it will be at least another week before the district decides on the move.

Till, meanwhile, says he is hopeful the state will find money in the budget to keep the state funding alive.

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