By Benjamin Yount Illinois Statehouse News
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois lawmakers have weighed in on several requests from local schools across the state to charge more, or change the requirements, for drivers’ education.
Local schools, by law, can only charge $50 per pupil for drivers’ ed. But schools can ask for special permission to charge more, sometimes several hundred dollars more. The Illinois State Board of Education passes those request along to state lawmakers.
Three requests received special attention in Springfield on Tuesday.
Lawmakers agreed to allow St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 to increase their drivers’ ed fee to $400 for this year. The legislature also signed off on a plan from St. Charles to allow the district to retroactively charge students $200 for classes last year. St. Charles officials told the State Board that they wanted to avoid a refund situation.
It was a split bag for Rock Island schools. The Rock Island District 41 had wanted a four-year waiver to swap three hours of behind-the-wheel time for 12 hours of computer simulation time. Lawmakers gave the district a one-year waiver and a warning that there would be no more.
DeKalb Community School District 428 is not going to be allowed to stop teaching behind-the-wheel classes. Officials there said as a way to cut costs they’d hoped to farm out the drive-time classes to private instructors, but state lawmakers said “no.” But the legislature is allowing DeKalb schools to increase the drivers’ ed fee to as mush as $400 dollars.
Several dozen other waivers, including requests for physical education opt-outs and leeway on English language education, were also granted without objection.