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Traffic Safety Education is saved by the board

POULSBO — North Kitsap School District teenagers who are eager to get behind the wheel next school year caught a lucky break.

Despite the district’s recommendation to nix the Traffic Safety Education program, NKSD board members voted unanimously to continue the course for the 2008-09 school year, during Thursday’s meeting.

After listening to 90 minutes of parent, student and teacher testimony in support of NKSD driver’s education, board member Dan Delaney said voting to keep the program for another year was an easy decision to make.

He said the vote ultimately came down to one question: Will continuing the TSE program place a financial burden on the district? The answer was a simple no, especially because the TSE program is in the black and therefore won’t be a drain on the district’s ever-shrinking budget.

“There seemed to be very little reason to discontinue it,” Delaney said. “It’s a program that has obviously been very successful. It’s hard to stop programs that people like so it was a good thing that this program was self-sufficient.”

Another bone of contention involved in the TSE program decision was the district’s reversal of the TSE task force’s recommendation to continue the program. In October a district task force formed to determine the efficacy of NKSD’s ability to offer driver’s education in the future. The task force recommended the district continue the program, but the district said it should go. And during a March 27 board meeting, Greg Epperson, NKSD executive director of student support services, advised the board to 86 the TSE program.

That advice didn’t settle well with the board.

“It’s an unusual circumstance for an administration to take a position opposite from a committee formed to study an issue,” Delaney said. “In this case they did it and it kind of bothered me. A lot of people like the TSE program at the district.”

The favorable vote, however, has a caveat. The TSE program will be offered at the actual direct and indirect costs — gas, cars, instructors and their time, insurance and other materials — of providing the program. Therefore, fees to participate in the course will most likely increase.

“There’s a strong possibility the cost of the course is going to increase,” said Chris Case, director of communication and community relations.

The official price increase has yet to be determined, Case said, and the district will be crunching the numbers in the near future.

NKSD is the only district in Kitsap County that offers driver’s education to students.

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