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West ready to realign driver’s ed

Updated: November 8, 2012 7:26PM

AURORA — The West Aurora School District will begin bracing itself for what could amount to a 48 percent reduction in state funding for driver’s education programs, and that will mean making adjustments to the program.

The board discussed options this week, and the conversation will continue at the next meeting on Nov. 19.

Board member Angie Smith said she is happy that the district offers a driver’s ed program that goes above what is mandated by the state, but that that may not be the case in the future.

“Unfortunately our reality is that our finances won’t allow us to continue to do this,” she said.

The state requires 30 clock hours of classroom education and six hours behind the wheel for driver’s education. Currently West Aurora offers 34 clock hours, 3 hours behind the wheel and 12 hours of simulated time. The state equates the 12 hours of simulation to three clock hours behind the wheel.

Previously the board discussed the options of eliminating simulators, but that is something that driver’s education staff at the district has said is a necessary part of the process for students. The simulators allow drivers to replicate situations that would not be safe in a car.

If the school eliminated simulators and required more behind-the-wheel time, that would also increase demand for more cars. One car can cost $4,560 a school year, and $5,475 for a calendar year, if the district decided to keep it year round.

West currently charges students $350 for the class, and is allowed by the state to charge up to $500, so the district could increase the price of the program, administrators said.

The fees charged students and the reimbursement payments from the state then supplement the costs of the program.

Administrators also discussed the option of outsourcing the drivers ed program to vendors, or forming cooperative agreements with other area districts. These types of programs would likely meet state standards, but whether they meet staff standards would depend on the structure of the arrangement.

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