After a one year absence, high demand has brought driver’s education back to Tooele High School.
The Tooele County School Board heard a report at their Tuesday night meeting that drivers education will include online, in school, and before school classes at Grantsville, Tooele, and Stansbury High schools starting in the fall of 2014.
“Canceling driver education at Tooele High School has been the largest cause of phone calls and complaints I have received since I came to the district,” said Scott Rogers, Tooele County School District superintendent. “Bringing drivers education back is about listening to our parents and responding to their needs.”
Rogers started his job in Tooele two months after the Tooele County School Board approved a recommendation by THS principal Bill Gochis to drop driver’s education.
Gochis explained to the board last May that he needed to add a chemistry teacher to meet the enrollment demand for a required course, but he did not have the overall enrollment growth to allow adding a new teacher.
Drivers education enrollment at THS was declining with less than half of the students eligible for drivers education enrolled in the class, according to Gochis.
With the THS drivers education teacher retiring in June 2013, Gochis sought and received permission from the board to drop drivers education and replace the teacher with a new chemistry teacher.
The decline in drivers education enrollment is due to a trend for students at THS to complete drivers education course work online and then do the required driving experience through a private school, according to Gochis.
However, as of Jan. 2014, only two Tooele High School students have registered to take drivers education online, said Rick Harrison, TCSD driver education coordinator.
Some students have enrolled at a local private driving school, others are going ahead and driving without taking drivers education, and some just aren’t driving at all, he added.
The Driving School, a private drivers education school in Tooele, has not been able to keep up with the demand for drivers education since the announcement was made that THS would not offer drivers education, said Cassie Stewart, owner of the Driving School.
“We’ve had to turn students away,” she said. “We are just a small school.”
Harrison described a “blended” approach to drivers education that will include online, in school, and before school drivers education classes that the district will offer.
“I think we will always have a need for some drivers education during school,” he said. “There are students that don’t have Internet access or their connection is not robust enough to handle the online software.”
Drivers education is about more than just driving, according to Harrison.
“In our community if you don’t have a drivers license when you graduate, you aren’t job ready,” he said.