Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ – or Not
No – we’re not recommending artists for you to check out with the iTunes gift cards you may receive over the holidays. We’re referring to the situation that WCPSS and other districts now face as they work to solve a budget hole created by the legislature.
Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, the legislature ended state funding for mandated driver education. They have not ended the mandate. Previously, and including this current school year, funding came from an annual appropriation through the Highway Fund. Districts now will have to find that funding somewhere else.
WCPSS annually serves 10,500-12,000 students in driver education courses. The coursework includes 30 hours of classroom instruction and six hours behind the wheel. The total cost per student is $246.92. Districts have received $191.92 in state funding and have been allowed to charge a $55 fee per student to offset costs. The new law states that they may now charge up to $65 to offset costs.
For WCPSS, the gap created by the loss of state funds means means a business case for $2.5 million in the 2015-2016 budget. For Wake County, that may mean seeing a corresponding increase in funding from WCPSS.
School board member Bill Fletcher is upset. He sees a shift from the state government’s funding of education to local government’s funding of education. “Our public needs to know that there is no other place to get money except sales taxes and property taxes…every transfer [of funding source from state to local money] that comes through the county has an implication that locally we’re going to be asking our citizens pay more…I’m suggesting the legislature honor the bargain struck after the Depression, where the state funds the operation of the schools.”