Some Park City students are paying more for driver’s ed
Some Park City School District students must pay twice as much to learn how to drive.
Because of class size limitations, sophomores at Park City High School are admitted to driver’s education on a first-come first-serve basis. This leaves nearly a third of the students to enroll in private courses. The cost of driver’s education through Park City High School amounts to approximately $130 while private lessons at the local A-1 Certified Driving School run $270.
PCHS employs one part-time drivers ed teacher throughout the year, Kavin Goode, who is also a shop instructor. In his drivers ed courses Goode teaches approximately 140 of the 310 sophomores. During the summer, Jeff Schwalbe teaches drivers ed and serves about 50 students.
"He’s been our only help for quite a few years," Goode said.
He added that Park City is fortunate because many of the residents can afford the private lessons.
"Very few districts can do this," he said.
Principal Hal Smith said there is no fee waiver program in drivers ed for low income students because the class is not mandatory. He also mentioned that he has received no complaints from parents of students who have had to take private lessons.
"I think they look at it as a choice," Smith said.
He added that some parents elect not to allow their children to get a drivers license in their sophomore year.
Both Smith and Goode emphasized that a driver’s license is a privilege.
"There are some ways in which the state is trying to emphasize the importance of the driver’s license. It’s a privilege, not a right," Smith said.
Drivers ed requirements
Students must pass a written test with an 80 percent or above to obtain their learner’s permit, and they also have to be 15 years and nine months old. The permit lasts for six months, and the student’s parent or legal guardian must be present in the passenger seat.
Students spend 12 hours of class time in a car, with six hours spent observing and six hours spent driving. They must also complete 34 hours of practice driving with parents. This is in preparation for their driving test.
Goode stresses that students who do not practice with their parents oftentimes fail the driving test. On average, his students receive an 80 percent on their driving test with a 90 percent on their written test.
"That’s just typical of my class," he said.
Students who do not pass their driving test the first time must go to the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles for any re-takes.
After passing the driving test students are given a provisional driver’s license. This license restricts young drivers from operating vehicles between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. There are exceptions to this rule, including if the student needs to be out at those hours for school functions or religious activities.
A provisional license only has 70 points on it. Points are deducted for disobeying traffic laws such as running a stop sign or failing to yield the right of way. A regular operator’s license has 200 points on it.
"They have found the provisional driver’s license has reduced the number of new driver deaths," Goode said.
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The Park City Board of Education is on track to place a bond on the ballot this fall to improve district facilities. The top priorities would be to put ninth grade in the high school, eighth grade in the middle school and to augment preschool offerings by expanding elementary schools.