Chesapeake schools could cut driver's ed

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by Karen Hopkins, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 25 at 7:01 PM

CHESAPEAKE -- School board members may cut driver's ed from Chesapeake schools in a move that they say could save money for parents and the division.

“I think it’s a program that can work more efficiently in the private sector,” said School Board member Harry Murphy, who added that the board will discuss the idea Monday night.

Parents already pay $300 for the behind-the-wheel program offered by Chesapeake Schools. 

Murphy says students can save money by taking the course from private companies.

“It’s going to be cheaper for the parents,” he stated.

Area driver’s ed companies do have competitive rates.   For example, Hancock Driving school in Portsmouth charges $250 and Hampton Roads Driving School in Virginia Beach charges $295.

However, if the program is not at school, students could have to arrange rides to take the course at other locations.

“There is a little parental responsibility here, but it doesn’t take much. Plus it’s also freedom given to parents who have been shuttling their kids around for years,” said Murphy.

He said school officials will look into having private companies pick kids up from school. 

Eliminating driver's ed to save money is a growing trend.  Suffolk, Portsmouth and Isle of Wight County schools have parked the program.

Murphy says cutting driver's ed is expected to save the school district the cost of maintaining its own cars, paying gas and insurance.

 “I think it’s one of those issues, we can still provide the service, but cost the parents less and the tax payers less. I think it’s a win, win.” Murphy said.

The owner of Hancock Driving School in Portsmouth said Monday that cutting the program in Chesapeake could create a shortage of classes. He noted classes at private companies book up weeks in advance already, so it might be tough for kids to get behind the wheel and therefore would delay them from getting a license.

Murphy said it's unclear when the program could be cut, noting it could take a year to make the transition.

As for concerns that private companies would be overwhelmed, Murphy said there are more than 10,000 students in Chesapeake's seven high schools. Because of that, he believes more driver's ed businesses would open to meet the demand.

 

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