Niles ups rate, cuts costs and saves drivers’ education classes

Published 5:56 am Wednesday, February 18, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- With the state cutting all funding for drivers' education programs, school districts have been dropping their services left and right, but Niles Community Schools has found a feasible way to keep their program around.
Superintendent Doug Law said with the state funding being cut and the district's already tight budget, school officials had to find a way to offer the program at a cheaper rate than the private drivers' education services.
The program also had to pay for itself because the district could not afford to take any money out of its general fund.
By increasing the price for students and decreasing the amount paid to instructors, the district was able to retain the program.
He said the union agreed that the instructors would take a 20 percent pay cut in order for the district to be able to offer the program at a lower rate than private services.
The drivers' education program will require a minimum number of students to enroll for the service to be possible.
If there are not at least 225 students enrolled by the April 16 deadline, the summer program will be cancelled.
The cost of the program is $250 for segment 1 and $50 for segment 2. Segment 1 includes the regular summer instruction and segment 2 is additional instruction that will take place after the students have had around 60 days of practice.
Last year's price for both segments was $225.
Law said this year's total price of $300 is still considerably less than the private services that range from around $375 to $405. He said the district came very close to privatizing its program, but was pleased itarrived at a solution to keep the program.
As of this week, those interested in enrolling can register at the Niles High School office from 12 to 3 p.m. A $100 deposit must be paid at the time of registration.
The program will also be available to out of district students on a first come, first serve basis.
Niles students will have first priority, with all of the remaining spots available to the out of district students.
At this time the program can only accommodate a total of 240 students.
Out of district students will be charged the same price and will receive their deposits back if there are no spots available.
There will be two available sessions for segment 1 this summer. The first will take place from June 14 to July 2 and the second session will be from July 6 to July 26.
Segment 2 courses are scheduled to take place some time in the fall of the 2004-2005 school year.