East Grand School District looks at driver’s ed | SteamboatToday.com

East Grand School District looks at driver’s ed

Community gets involved in bringing back safety program that has been absent for 20 years

Katie Looby/Sky-Hi Daily News

After about 20 years without a driver’s education program, Grand County leaders are working on a plan to make it available to local students again.

The program would be a way to “better prepare them for the kind of driving conditions we have here in Grand County,” Fraser-Winter Park Police Chief Glen Trainor said.

After a Winter Park Town Council member suggested it to Trainor, this summer he began looking into what it would take to start a driver’s education program.

The National Driver Training Institute requires 30 hours of classroom education, which costs about $85; and six hours behind the wheel, which is $360, he said.

To make the training more affordable, Winter Park Town Council has pledged $10,000 to East Grand School District.

Within the 18 years Trainor has lived in east Grand County, five teenagers have died in car accidents.

“Anything we can do to make our kids safer and bring them home everyday is a good thing,” he added.

Middle Park High School Principal Jane Harmon and East Grand Superintendent Nancy Karas also have been involved in starting the program.

Having a local program would be a cheaper alternative for students and parents than commuting to Denver, Harmon said.

“We want our kids to have mountain-driving experience,” she added.

Along with the 30 classroom hours and six hours behind the steering wheel, students would be required to drive 50 hours with their parents. The National Driver Training Institute would train the driver’s education instructor, Harmon said.

The first class could take place this spring, but the high school would need at least 10 students to enroll to offer the class, she said. People interested in taking the course should contact Harmon at the school to help decide whether the district will have the class in spring 2009. She can be reached at 970-887-2104.

The training also would be available to West Grand High and North Park High in Walden.

Mountain Parks Electric has pledged $20,000 to give to each high school though an educational trust to make the training more affordable, said Tom Sifers, Mountain Parks Electric assistant general manager and president of the East Grand Board of Education.

“That’s been a long-time goal,” he said. “We’re real excited.”

West Grand Principal Philip Bonds is waiting to find out what the proposal is before the high school commits to the program. He will know more at a meeting Jan. 12, he said.

“We don’t really know much about what their proposal is,” he added.

The district stopped offering driver’s education four years ago, he said.

It currently offers an online distance-learning class. Students sign up with a course provider and also complete a driving segment.

Parents are required to supervise the riding portion. The course provider requires parents to have a log and submit it to the provider.

The Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles has approved the program, Bonds said.

Students have completed these types of drivers education programs for $45 to $99. “It’s been a good deal,” Bonds said.

Katie Looby covers government and education for the Sky-Hi Daily News. You may reach her at 887-3334, ext. 19601, or klooby@grandcountynews.com.

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