Driver's Ed Debate

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

Outsourcing is a growing trend in business and now education. The Rockford school district is considering outsourcing a handful of programs, including driver's education to save money. District leaders believe they can save $96,000, but it could come at a price.

In effort to save money, the Rockford School Board hopes to close the door on in school driver's ed programs. District leaders say they'll save thousands by outsourcing to commercial driving schools, but instructors disagree.

"You don't save any actual dollars on the program. Your just wasting a quality program where the kids can get a well-rounded driver's education and skills," says East High School driver's education teacher, Robert Nunez.

Instructors like Nunez and Paul York would not lose their jobs. They'd be reassigned to other fields and teachers farther down on the pay scale would be laid off.

But that's not the only concern. Driver’s ed instructors say school-based classes are proven to be safer, and they have more experience dealing with English as a second language students, hearing impaired or special needs kids.

"We use a lot of our prep time before school, during school and after school to work with the kids. I don't think a commercial school is set up to work those extra hours," said Nunez.

Drive Right driving school has bid on the district's possible contract. Owner Barry Mulencupp says his instructors are just as certified and experienced as school instructors and Drive Right works hard to involve parents and meet the needs of all students

"We offer 30 hours of classroom, six hours of driving observation. Really there's no difference in our program than the public school," said Mulencupp.

In order to outsource to commercial driving schools like Drive Right, the district will need a waiver from the state.


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