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End of road for Timberlane’s driver's education program

Union Leader Correspondent

May 13. 2014 8:36PM

PLAISTOW — Timberlane Regional High School will no longer offer a driver education program.

The School Board recently voted to do away with the program effective July 1, citing the financial and administrative burden it has placed on the district over the past several years.

The program started at the school in 2006, and at the time, received state money to help pay for some of the costs.

As that state help has disappeared in the past several years,the program has been losing up to $50,000 per year. About 200 students took driver education through the high school last year.

Director of Secondary Education Scott Strainge presented several options for the driver education program to the board, including carrying on with the current program with some modifications, contracting out to a single provider for the program, or doing away with driver education altogether.

Strainge said he and district business administrator George Stokinger had a lot of discussion about what option would be best for the district.

“We feel that it would simply be best to remove ourselves from the business of driver education,” said Strainge.

He noted that several surrounding communities, such as Salem, Pelham and Windham, have a third-party provider for driver education, while other communities such as Manchester and Nashua are not in the driver education business at all.

Timberlane, Strainge said, is one of the only schools to provide its own driver education program.

“We’re the last of the Mohicans,” he said.

Several board members said they don’t want to see the district losing money on the program, but said it is a convenience for parents and students.

“I would hate to lose that convenience all together for them,” said board member Kate Delfino.

Board member Kelly Ward noted the district also provides some financial aid and scholarship opportunities for students in need and said he would hate to see families lose that.

Superintendent Earl Metzler said that although the district will no longer offer driver education, local driving schools may be able to use district classroom space after school and in the summer to provide convenient options for students.

He added that the district will also look at continuing to provide some kind of financial assistance or scholarships for families that need help paying for driver education.

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