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Driver’s ed cost, provider vary parish to parish

By STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / November 30, 1998

Budget pressures forced about half the high schools in the U.S. to abandonformal driver education programs, and high schools in the River Parishes were among those affected.

According to Gerard Oubre, director of the St. Charles Parish DrivingSchool, driver education in St. Charles Parish was originally funded andorganized through the public school system and students received academic credit for completing the course. The program is now offeredthrough community education, and during the summer it is held at the VFW Hall in Luling.

Oubre said the program’s removal from the school system was the result of financial strain.

“Most school systems in the state got rid of their driver education programs because of the cost,” Oubre said. “The cost of the program,instructors and teachers and expense of the cars were high.”Oubre said he would prefer the program be taught through the school system.

“At school, if they’re going to teach you about life and what you should do, driver education should be a part of that,” he said.

Cost of driver education at the St. Charles Parish Driving School is $250for 30 hours of class instruction and six hours of actual driving instruction, Oubre said. For persons 17 years of age and older, a minimumof six hours of classroom instruction is required to obtain a driver’s license. Cost for the six-hour course has been mandated by the state in theamount of $25.

According to Brenda Butler, director of secondary education for St. JohnParish, the driver education program for St. John Parish students had beenremoved from the public school system, but it was recently revived when the state made driver education a requirement for young drivers.

“The program was brought back as a service for students and parents because it’s now needed in order to drive,” Butler said.

The course is offered at both East and West St. John high schools by aninstructor based at East St. John. Since its revival in St. John Parish, the driver education program has notinduced budget pressures for the school system, Butler said. The schoolsystem pays for instructors and provides the driver education vehicles, and the program will continue to be offered through the schools, she said.

Cost of driver education through the St. John Parish School System is$185 for 30 hours of classroom instruction and six hours of driving. Theprogram is for students only.

The New Orleans State Driving School in LaPlace offers identical driving instruction for $250. Driving instructor Wendy Weber said many studentschoose to take driver education through her firm.

“We’re certified by the state, and the benefits are that you learn to drive the way the state wants you to drive,” Weber said. “Another benefit isthat some insurance companies give discounts if you’ve taken driver education.

“We get students and people from all over, and everybody who wants to drive has to take the course,” she said. “Some people have to come in andtake the course if they got a DWI or if their license has been expired for more than 90 days.”In St. James Parish, students at St. James High School and Lutcher HighSchool are offered driver’s education during the summer. Cost to the highschool students is $150 for 30 hours of classroom instruction and six hours of driving.

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