New program bridges driver’s ed gap


Beginning next school year, eligible students at Hillsboro High School will be given the opportunity to take required driver’s education classes at a nominal cost through the Drive to Succeed initiative as a result of the efforts of city of Hillsboro and Hillsboro High School officials, along with a grant from the Ohio Department of Safety

The announcement was made recently by Lauren Walker, city of Hillsboro economic development coordinator and code 0fficial.

Previously, the costs associated with obtaining private driver’s education classes, a state requirement for underage drivers in the process of applying for a driver’s license, have constituted a significant impediment. This, in turn, has prevented or delayed licensure, resulting in the inability to access employment opportunities. According to Walker, an increase in driving related fatalities by unlicensed drivers, “is also a concern.”

“Hillsboro High School counselors Jessica Rhoades and Tina Young and principal Joe Turner approached the city regarding this grant opportunity,” Walker said, adding that the program perfectly coalesced with concerns that had been discussed in the past and how to mitigate them. “Over the years we have had multiple discussions with Hillsboro High School regarding” how to address the matter of assisting “students who want to enter the workforce but are forced to wait to obtain a driver’s license.”

She said the cost can exceed $600.

“This can be a huge barrier,” Rhoades said.

Low-income families are disproportionately affected by these often cost-prohibitive state requirements.

Rhoades said that helping teenagers get their driver’s license is something that is consistent with other academic goals.

“At Hillsboro High School we strive to provide students with experiences” that are preparatory for employment, she said’ “And having a driver’s license is crucial to future success in such an area that does not have reliable public transportation.”

Rhoades explained that Hillsboro High School, in conjunction with the city of Hillsboro administration, completed the grant paperwork and were subsequently awarded $10,000 to administer the program to eligible students.

She said that the driver’s education program will be held after regular school hours at Hillsboro High School.

Team Driving School of Hillsboro, which according to its website offers driver’s education through a state approved program, will be providing services for the Hillsboro High School Drive to Succeed initiative courses.

Michaela Yager, a representative for the company, said that Team Driving is a local company and is pleased to be involved in the needed program.

An area high school student who did not want to be identified said they think the program sounds like a great idea.

They said that even though they are interested in getting a driver’s license, they have been confused about how to enroll in driver’s education classes. They said the idea of driver’s education taking place at the school is convenient and accessible.

“That’s where the kids are who want to do it,” they said. “If it’s at the high school, it’s going to be easier for them.”

Rhoades said that entry into the scholarship program, in which the cost of the driver’s education would be paid for, save for a small fee, is based upon specific eligibility criteria including academic standing, which she noted are negotiable on an individual basis, being concurrently eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and acquiescing to the completion of a state provided survey.

Participants must be enrolled at Hillsboro High School. Students ineligible for subsidized services may also access the driver’s education courses by paying the regular price without being subject to the academic requirements.

Applications are available now in the counseling suite at Hillsboro High School.

Juliane Cartaino is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.

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