RHS dropping driver education class from regular curriculum

Jun 4, 2013 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

After summer vacation is over and school begins, Riverton High School will no longer offer driver education courses.

Like many other high schools in Wyoming and the United States, RHS will be offering the class only in the summer, and to fewer students.

The changes came after driver education instructor Linda Brown retired and the position wasn't filled.

The class had been offered as part of the regular high school curriculum for at least 50 years.

"We weren't able to get any applicants for that part-time position," said Terry Snyder, superintendent for Fremont County School District 25.

Letters were sent to parents to let them know of the changes.

The summer class is offered on a contractual basis with the instructors. Enrollment costs $250, with the school district paying half. Snyder said some teachers at the school are certified to be driver education instructors but can't fill Brown's position because they have other full-time faculty jobs with the district.

Brown said she was concerned many parents still didn't know the class wasn't going to be offered during the school year and may not be able to afford the summer class.

"I was just dumbfounded," she said, adding that perhaps the district is not receiving a high demand from parents for the class.

Snyder said the district made accommodations for two sessions in the summer, with each being able to hold 20 students -- but only 14 have signed up with Jay Galey, also a high school health and physical education teacher.

Snyder said he has received some feedback from parents saying they prefer the course in the summer and that they appreciate that the class will remain, even if it's just in the summer.

"The critical part is that we can provide it," he said. "The most common way is in the summer."

A demand for staff in the English department helped lead to the decision to eliminate the course during the school year. Snyder also mentioned that parents can receive a reduction in their insurance premiums along with a good student discount when the student is added to the parent's account and obtains a state driver's license.

Brown recalled the summer courses in the past having up to 75 students enrolled. Thousands of RHS students took driver education through the decades.

"There's so much more in the class than just driving. I was teaching kids how to stay alive and make good and safe decisions," Brown said. "I think it's one of the most important life-saving classes at the high school."

For now, Brown said she's glad the district is working with families, but she hopes students continue to enroll and receive enough driving practice.

"For a high school our size, our teen fatality rate has been fantastic, not even close to what other high schools have had," she said. "I just want it to keep going."

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