Driver's Ed Funding Could Be on the Chopping Block

Gaston County, N.C. (WJZY) -- A debate going on right now between the North Carolina House and Senate could cost you hundreds of dollars. They're arguing over whether or not to fund driver’s education for students.

"She's excited. Just like we were excited. She wants to drive," said Madaline McCluney, mother of a 15-year-old daughter.

It's hard to forget your first time behind the wheel, but 15 year olds in North Carolina might not get the chance to learn how to drive in school like before.

State lawmakers are still debating whether or not to fund the program in this year's budget. Right now, the House is in favor of keeping funding for the program. The Senate is not.

If not added to the budget, the bill would be passed on to parents.

"I have a 15 year old who would be taking drivers ed in January," said McCluney.

Says she'll spend the three hundred plus dollars it costs to put her daughter through a driving school, but not everyone has the extra cash.

"I've had some people call and I tell them it’s $395 dollars and that's just out of their range," said Ray Sparks, a driving instructor in Gastonia.

But money isn't the only issue parents and driving instructors are talking about. They're also concerned about safety behind the wheel and on the road.

"They'll have to learn some way. I hope we don't see an increase in collisions and fatalities," said Sparks.

As it stands right now, driver’s education is required of anyone under age 18 to get a permit and license. If not, they'll have to wait until their 18 years old to take the written and driving test.

McCluney says getting her permit early was important for her family.

"We were reared by our grandparents. It took a load off of them to not have to drive 5 kids around everywhere. Also, the independence of getting that permit and getting the experience driving was really important," said McCluney.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools will continue to offer driver’s Fox 46 they're waiting until a budget is passed to make a decision.