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In-car driver’s ed training change considered by BCPS

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By Tom Wilmoth

    Instead of ending its in-car driver training program, Bedford County Public Schools is considering modifying the program in order to be able to provide it in the future.
    Last month the School Board heard a proposal to stop providing the in-car training through the school system, but after consulting staff, other school divisions and members of the community, a different approach has been suggested.
    During its meeting Thursday, School Board members heard about the proposed model from Dr. Mac Duis, director of instruction with the school system, who said the key will be basing the program out of the three high schools, rather than offering the training at Bedford Science and Technology Center.
    Dr. Duis said by moving the training back to the high schools, it should provide students with more actual driving in authentic road settings. In order to do that, he said staff responsibilities for the program will need to reconfigured, the cost charged students will have to be increased from $185 to the maximum allowable charge of $199 and donations of vehicles will be needed. In addition, Dr. Duis said more instructors will be needed.
    The goal would be to finance the program solely through student fees and community donations.
    Tim Groover, chairman of BEDCO Cares (Bedford County Combined Accident Reduction Effort), told board members that organization is willing to step up and help the in-car training program offered by the school system. Groover, who lost his daughter in an accident 10 years ago, said the organization was willing to help any way it can.
    “We believe it’s in the best interest of the students and the families of Bedford County,” Groover said of the training program offered by BCPS.
    Dr. Duis said that, once implemented, the program will need to be evaluated “to make sure we’re on the right track.” He said modifying the program would be a community process with a community benefit.
    “There’s a lot of work to be done,” he said of getting it up and running. “We think it’s doable within the fee structure.”
    Board members voiced support for the effort.
    “We really need to gather community support for this,” Board Vice Chairman Julie Bennington stated. “This is not a program we can afford to get rid of.”
    In other action Thursday:
    • The School Board discussed its budget calendar for the upcoming year.
    • School Superintendent Dr. Douglas Schuch reported that school enrollment was up about 23 students over what had been projected (10,298 students), but 83 students fewer than were enrolled last year.