District 205 Asks School Board to Submit Driver's Education Waiver

By: Lauren Kravets
By: Lauren Kravets

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The Rockford Public School District is not meeting the needs of its students when it comes to driver's education. Administrators are now asking to outsource driver's ed.

Right now District 205 only has two driver's ed teachers. They serve 180 students in the classroom and 165 behind the wheel and that's less than the current demand.

That is why the district wants to subcontract the program to a private company. School leaders say it costs the district more than $800 per student but with a private company, it would cost half that, about $400, and the district would be able to serve more students, about 500. Dist. 205 currently spends $190,000 for two teachers, gas and car maintenance. The cost to serve double the students with a private company would be about $200,000.

However some are worried students won't be as safe of drivers if they're not taught from certified school teachers.

"Students that do not get a quality education will fall between the cracks, will drive illegally and will wait until age 18. when they get to 18, all they're required to do is go through 13 chapters of the rules of the road booklet," said Ralph Duke with the Illinois High School and College Driver Education Association.

Duke says students don't get that driving experience and in-depth education if they wait until they're 18-years-old. Duke is also concerned that even with a private company, many students will still have to wait to take driver's education.

The majority of District 205 students qualify for free or reduced lunch so their driver's ed fees are waived. And that will still be the case if the district goes with a private company.

Even if the board does approve the state waiver application at its next meeting, the district still has to seek approval from the state. Depending on when that happens, the district could implement driver's ed changes as early as the Fall.

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