District 207 considers Outsourcing Driver’s Ed

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Maine Township High School Dist. 207 is examining the possibility of outsourcing driver training programs to a private driving school.

The exact details depend on what type of responses the district will receive. It can either outsource the aspects behind the wheel while the aspects of the classroom remain internal, or it can outsource all of the training.

The changes are proposed as the district’s current driving simulators and student cars need to be replaced.

District officials argue that outsourcing could not only save money, it could also free up physical education teachers, which would allow for smaller class sizes in the gym. The proposal has already been pushed back by the Illinois High School & College Driver Education Association (IHSCDEA), which argued that the quality of teaching would suffer and that the district overestimated how much money it would save.

The district school board is expected to review any proposals that might come back during their April 5 meeting, with changes potentially taking effect early in the 2021-2022 school year.

According to the Illinois School Board of Education (ISBE), school districts are required to provide driver training courses to their own students and students attending private schools in the district. However, participation in the driver’s title is neither a state qualification requirement nor a Dist. 207s. School districts may impose a fee of up to $ 50 per student, with no fee for students who qualify for free or discounted lunches.

ISBE partially reimburses the district for the cost of running driving classes using a formula that takes into account how many students attended the class. According to Dist. 207 will be reimbursed $ 192.46 per student – significantly less than $ 1,527.24. The ISBE report for the 2018-2019 school year, the last full school year before the pandemic, said the district was spending $ 689,122 on driver training at that time, of which $ 117,142 was reimbursed.

According to a February 23 memo to the Dist. 207 Board of Education, the district originally planned to postpone the 2023-2024 school year, but two factors caused it to consider outsourcing earlier. Due to COVID-19, certain sports seasons have been postponed to summer. Since most of the driver’s driving instructors are also coaches, the district cannot offer driving instructors until 2021. Driving simulators will also need to be upgraded, which the district estimates will cost $ 450,000, and five of them will replace six student driver vehicles that are estimated to cost $ 90,000. This is on top of regular expenses, which after fees and government reimbursements were $ 617,003 per year for the 2019-2020 school year.

In contrast, the district estimates that by outsourcing the program, it could spend $ 100,000 on drivers. The fact that there would be no need to buy new cars and that the classroom component is included in the outsourcing could further reduce costs.

During the Dist. At the board meeting, Shawn Messmer, the assistant superintendent of curriculum and innovation, said that would not mean a reduction in jobs as two employees would retire anyway and others would simply spend more time teaching physical education. Messmer added that “across the district, 68% of our students are currently not completing any part of driver training.”

But in a letter to the Dist. The IHSCDEA board of directors expressed some concerns about the proposal. Most of all, they argued that doing so would affect the quality of teaching.

“[Does the district] Do you feel that these private companies are actually able to find and hire high quality, certified ISBE teachers? “Asked the letter. “Is there coordination between the Maine staff and the tutor on curriculum and state standards? Whose vehicles are used? How much does the private sector charge for each student? What if the private company cannot find enough teachers to meet the need?[s] of 700 students? “

The letter also raises concerns that the private tutors are not being properly certified.

Messmer informed the school authorities that the employees had contact with the Palatinate-based Township High School Dist. 211, which has outsourced its own driver training program to learn from its experience. The district found that the driving schools weren’t very interested in taking over the classroom, so Messmer said Dist. 207 teachers are likely to address this issue when the outsourcing takes place.

He also said that state law requires the district to evaluate all drivers who would teach students and that drivers must be state certified. “In Dist. 211 of these drivers are retired Illinois public school driving instructors, ”Messmer said.

Mary Kalou, the district’s assistant manager, said the district no longer had to pay for liability insurance.

All the county board members who spoke supported the outsourcing. President Paula Besler said it was safe for students and “responsible taxpayers’ money”.

Messmer said there will be a public hearing before the board votes on whether to proceed with the outsourcing. If there are no responses to the request, the district will simply continue to offer in-house driver conditions.

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