Driver’s education will now require a fee

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beginning in July, Rowan-Salisbury students will have to pay at least $65 for driver’s education. The school board unanimously voted to implement the fee during their meeting Monday evening.

State law requires that each school system provide driver’s education. Funding previously came from the highway fund, but this year, the General Assembly has cut funding for driver’s education from its budget.

The program costs the Rowan-Salisbury School System $319,000 annually, not including the cost of replacing vehicles over time. While school districts are allowed to charge a $65 fee, that money only covers a fraction of the cost of the program’s expenses.

Moody said $319,000 is the equivalent to six teaching positions.

“The impact to us is huge,” said Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody. “When it takes a classroom teacher out of the classroom, it’s a big deal.”

Moody said she, along with other superintendents, hope that if the General Assembly won’t fund the program, they will remove the fee cap.

If the cap were removed, Rowan-Salisbury would charge students between $250 and $300 to cover the cost of the class.

“That’s not optimal,” Moody said. “Most of our children couldn’t afford that.”

The board also voted to accept and post a job description for a board attorney, as well as end current attorney Don Sayers’ implied agreement with the board, effective April 1.

Over the past few months, the board has discussed rebidding the board attorney position, much like it rebids its auditing process on a regular basis. Chairman Josh Wagner, Vice Chair Dean Hunter, Travis Allen, Susan Cox and Chuck Hughes voted to accept the job description. Jean Kennedy and Dr. Richard Miller abstained.

The vote to terminate Sayers’ services was 4-3, with Wagner, Hunter, Allen and Hughes voting in favor of the motion.

“It has nothing to do with Don, his firm or his service,” Wagner said, adding that Sayers has expressed interest in applying for the position.

“To me, it puts us in an awkward position,” he said.

The board will review applications and interview applicants directly.

In addition, the board decided to name the boardroom of the Wallace Educational Forum for Julian Robertson, whose generosity made much of the upcoming central services office a possibility.

The board will decide on a name for the Center for Innovation at a later date.