WISE — Student drivers in Wise County's school division may get steered on a new training route if discussions during Tuesday's school board meeting leads to an off ramp toward privatization.
Schools Superintendent Jeff Perry told the board the division spends more than $200,000 annually on driver's education for an average 350 students. Perry said the school system has been approached by a private driving instructor to take over the program with an informal offer of $100 per student.
Expected staff changes in the offing after the current school year, coupled with budget constraints, gives the school division and the board an opportunity to think about privatizing driver's ed, Perry said, with a potential savings of around $170,000 if privatizing actually pans out as initially advertised.
Perry said a request for proposals would be needed for competitive bids, with value and safety considerations along with cost, and the board would need to consider whether to have students pay the fee, have a sliding scale with free and reduced lunch students pay less with the school division making up the difference, or have the school division pick up the full fee — if at $100 per student — which would be around $35,000 a year compared to the over $200,000 now.
The behind the wheel (BTW) costs to the school division each year is around $150,000, with instructor, fuel and other associated costs pushing total driver's ed expenditures well north of $200,000, Perry said.
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