LUMBERTON — Students attending the Public Schools of Robeson County will no longer get a free ride when it comes to driver’s education.
The Board of Education voted Tuesday to begin charging students a $25 fee in July for driver’s education if the state continues to allow local systems to charge such a fee. Currently, state law permits school systems to charge a fee up to $45.
As a cost-saving measure, the district’s 25 driver’s education instructors will see their hourly rates cut by 20 percent, a savings that Erica Setzer, the district’s chief finance officer, said will save the school district about $60,000 a year. Driver’s education teachers are paid salaries based on the number of years they have been certified teachers, not on the number of years they have been driver’s education instructors, Setzer said.
Setzer said that the student fees and reduction in instructor salaries will save the school district overall about $110,000 a year.
Board member Loistine DeFreece urged school administrators to get the word out quickly that the $25 student fee, pending state approval, will be charged beginning in July.
“I want parents to know early so they can plan for this,” DeFreece said.
Despite facing a shortfall in driver’s education funds, the board during its budget negotiations for the current fiscal year opted not to implement a student fee. The board at that time expressed concerns that some students could not afford the fee.
Although similar concerns were raised Tuesday, the board decided to charge the fee rather than eliminate the program that 1,600 to 1,700 Robeson County students take each year.
In other business:
— The board voted to offer the old Townsend Middle School gym to the county Board of Commissioners. Board attorney Grady Hunt said the surplus property will be offered to the county at a “fair or negotiated” price. If the county opts not to accept the facility, the school district may then sell it to any interested buyer.
Currently, the school district is using the gym for storage. Maxton town officials are hoping the county will accept the building and then give it to the town to be used as a recreation center.
— Board members approved Superintendent Johnny Hunt’s request that school district employees work a four-day week during the summer beginning June 8. The four-day work week would be Monday through Thursday.
— Landa Gaddy briefly updated board members on a program that aims to help solve problems facing youths in Robeson County. The program addresses issues of junk food, obesity, poor habits and children without goals, Gaddy said.
— Lorna Harris, a guidance counselor at Prospect School, was recognized as the school district’s Certified Employee of the Month; Sharon Britt, a nurse at Deep Branch Elementary School, was recognized as the school district’s Classified Employee of the Month; and Donna Campbell, who drives students to and from Long Branch Elementary School, was recognized as the school district’s Bus Driver of the Month.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or email@example.com