The state Senate’s proposed budget would scrap the requirement that 15-to-17-year-olds have to complete driver’s education in order to get a learner’s permit. That would mean young drivers, like everyone else, could get a learner’s permit after the vision and multiple choice tests.
In place of driver’s ed., the proposed budget increases both the number of supervised driving hours required and the number of correct answers needed to pass the written driving test.
It’s a proposal that doesn’t sit well with Todd LoFrese, Assistant Superintendent for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.
“We think it’s a public safety interest to make sure that students receive driver training,” LoFrese said. “It’s a public safety issue.”
Spruce Hill Republican Ralph Hise added the amendment after the Senate proposed to remove the $65 cap on driver’s ed. course fees and move driver’s education out of the public school system and into community colleges. The amendment, Hise said, is meant to ensure teens who can’t afford the drivers ed. fee or make it to a community college can still get a learner’s permit. LoFrese agrees with the sentiment.
“Not every county has a community college, and it’s difficult for students to get there,” he said.
But LoFrese says he hopes driver’s ed. remains both required and accessible to young drivers in public schools.
“Hopefully with the state budget process, it gets resolved and funding is provided for the program. But if it’s not, we need to be prepared to make the necessary changes,” he said.
The House has already passed its own appropriations bill. The two chambers and the governor will be in negotiations for weeks before they settle on a final budget.