Driver’s education could become year-round course

GREENFIELD — Greenfield-Central leaders are considering offering the district’s summer driver’s education program year round.

The Greenfield-Central School Board this week preliminarily approved changes to the course, including the $35,000 purchase of two 2018 Ford Fusions and a provision that would allow students to fulfill the classroom portion online.

Superintendent Harold Olin said the district has historically borrowed driver’s ed vehicles for the summer from area dealerships. The school leased the cars for the summer, installed a second brake for the instructor and returned them once the course was complete. Having vehicles owned by the corporation opens the door for hosting classes year-round, should administrators decide there’s enough interest and need.

School leaders started investigating their options when they learned their previous process for hosting the classes might no longer be available.

Last year, high school associate principal Dave Beal told administrators area dealerships are moving away from loaning cars out for that purpose, forcing school leaders to consider other options if they want to continue offering driver’s education, which has been taught at the high school for more than two decades.

The vehicles cost about $17,800 each through the state’s quantity purchasing agreement, which enables the state to purchase items in bulk for a wholesale price, a discount passed along to government and school entities.

In addition to buying driver’s education cars, the district also is recommending a policy change that would allow students to complete the classroom portion of driver’s education — 30 hours spent learning the rules of the road — through a vendor online.

Student’s academic schedules and extra-curricular commitments can limit the opportunities they have to participate in that portion, Vail said. The students still would complete the driving portion with Greenfield-Central instructors.

Olin said purchasing the cars will not result in increased fees for students enrolling in the program. The district’s general fund can absorb the expense, he said.

The class, a 30-hour classroom experience plus 18 hours spent in a car on the road, cost $365, which is a competitive rate, said assistant superintendent Ann Vail.

The driver’s ed at Greenfield-Central has space for about 60 students every summer, Beal said. Currently, students can sign up to take the course at the high school in June or through an independent driving school as it fits into their schedules.

Purchasing vehicles could allow the district to offer the course throughout the school year rather than only during summer school, making the course an option for more students, Olin said.

“It’s a service to our community to offer this and make it happen,” Olin said.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.