East Grand School District hopes to bring drivers ed to students for first time in 20 years | SkyHiNews.com

East Grand School District hopes to bring drivers ed to students for first time in 20 years

Grand County, Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
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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.

As 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 Drivers 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 good thing,” he added.

Middle Park High School Principal Jane Harmon and East Grand Superintendent Nancy Karas have also 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 as another benefit.

Along with the 30 classroom hours and six hours behind the steering wheel, students would also be required to drive 50 hours with their parents. The National Drivers 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 offer the class, she said. People interested in taking the course should contact Harmon at the school in order to help decide if the district will have the class in spring 2009. She can be reached at (970) 887-2104.

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

Mountain Parks Electric has also 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 drivers 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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