C-R hears plea to bring back driver's ed

By Jim Poole

Cobleskill-Richmondville may bring back driver's education after hearing a mother make a pitch for the course last week.
The plea came from Mary Bates, whose son is taking the course in Middleburgh this summer because C-R doesn't offer it.
She contended that adding driver's ed back can be a benefit for all students--and all drivers.
"It's the only class every kid in the building can benefit from," Ms. Bates said. "It's something every kid in a rural area should have."
That argument struck a chord with the school board at last Monday's meeting.
"It may be the right thing to do," board President Bruce Tryon said. "I think Mary's just the tip of the iceberg. There may be a lot of parents looking for it."
Benefits include not only making teens better drivers, but also getting families a discount on insurance, Ms. Bates said.
Besides Middleburgh, Sharon Springs also offer's driver's ed. Schoharie does not.
C-R last offered the course during the 2009-10 school year, according to high school Principal Melissa Ausfeld, who said the course was a casualty of budget-cutting.
"With all the cuts we've had, we've been slowly trying to bring some things back," Ms. Ausfeld said.
C-R already has a certified driver's ed teacher on staff, Jamie Bautochka, who also teaches physical education.
Cost may be an issue. When last offered, driver's ed cost $320 per student, Superintendent Lynn Macan said.
It would be unlikely for the board to simply add the cost back into the 2013-14 budget, Ms. Macan said, but a shared cost between families and the school district might be attractive to board members.
"I think we could try to figure out how to make it work," she said. "A mutual commitment might be the way to go."
That would be fine with Ms. Bates.
"If they don't want to pay, I think parents would," she said. "Just offer it and give us a chance."
One hurdle may be parents who want their kids to take driver's ed but can't afford it.
Money from the Rolphie Fund, which aids students in the six county school districts, may help, Ms. Macan said.
"It would absolutely be a great thing to do for kids," she said.

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