Education

Driver's ed funding remains an issue in Wake County

Posted August 15, 2015 12:54 p.m. EDT
Updated August 15, 2015 11:06 p.m. EDT

— While lawmakers drag their feet on a state budget, the issue of funding driver's education programs came to a head when a popular provider in Wake County announced Saturday that classes were suspended - and then took the statement back.

"Driver Education in Wake County has been SUSPENDED as of Monday, August 17, 2015 and in accordance to instruction from Wake County Schools," Jordan Driving School posted on its website.

"Because the North Carolina budget for the 2015-2016 year has not been agreed upon, there is no established funding for Driver Education at this time. Until a decision is made by North Carolina legislators, no more Driver Education may be taught."

But by about 8 p.m., the statement was removed from the company's website. In a statement sent to WRAL News, the message was posted in error by a website contractor, according to Lorraine Jordan, president of Jordan Driving School.

Last summer, state lawmakers passed legislation to eliminate the $26 million that funds the program when the fiscal year ended on June 30, leaving school districts to find other means to cover program costs.

Jordan Driving School estimated that 135,000 students across the state would feel the pinch of higher fees.

After budget negotiations on Friday, Transportation budget writer Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, said House members had found money for driver's education elsewhere in the budget. But, he said, the Senate version of the budget proposal still would do away with it altogether.

Devin Tanner, who oversees the driver’s ed program for Wake County Public schools, said the district would have to find about $2.5 million for the 2015-2016 school year to run the program without state funds.

According to WCPSS spokeswoman Lisa Luten, a decision to suspend driver's ed has not been made. The board plans to discuss the budget on Tuesday.