Wake County’s funding for driver’s education has been eliminated in the face of a uncertainty in state funding, leaving many learning drivers in a sorry state.
North Carolina’s state government, the General Assembly, has been embroiled in a budget crisis for most of 2015. This absence of a concrete spending plan leaves counties to be funded through temporary spending plans. Wake County, and along with it, the Wake County Public School System, is unsure how much state funding will be given to the state’s counties this year. Through the temporary spending plan, no money remains to fund driver’s education via Jordan Driving School, the institution through which Wake County conducts behind-the-wheel driving instruction.
Over 3,000 teenagers have become stuck in limbo at Jordan Driving School, having completed the classroom portion of driver’s education, but unable to continue with behind-the-wheel instruction necessary to attain their learner’s permits without paying hefty costs normally covered by the state.
Lorraine Jordan, the owner of Jordan Driving School, expects business will fall by 80%, she said in an interview with ABC 11. Many instructors have resigned in the face of having no one to teach.
Normally, completing the driving portion of driver’s ed only costs students $65. This is because WCPSS Students regularly have most of the costs covered by the county, which is in turn funded by the state. With no funding remaining, Jordan driving school has no other option but to directly charge families of students hundreds of dollars– a fee many are reluctant to pay.
“I think it’s wrong for the students to not have their driving hours in [the school campus], that they actually have to go out instead of having to come to the closest place that they do [it].” said Justin Zacharko, a sophomore put on hold by the defunding.
Approximately a third of the state’s counties have opted to cease spending on driver’s education; They wait for direction from lawmakers in Raleigh. The general assembly must agree on a clearer picture of what funding will be for counties in the next fiscal year. Lawmakers currently spend their hours debating and arguing in the capitol building in Raleigh trying to come to an agreement for a spending plan. Under the current temporary spending plan, the state government will continue to give counties some funding until September 18th.
Wake County has taken the responsibility of notifying the parents and students stuck in limbo about the future of driver’s education and the path towards getting their license.