AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — A driver’s license can be the key to employment opportunities for many students. So, when Akron Public Schools concluded that masonry students at Buchtel High School were missing out on jobs because they could not drive, the district decided to enter into a partnership with Driving Schools of Ohio to offer a driver`s education program on the Buchtel campus.
“It is a barrier for many of our kids, that is to be able to have a first job, to be able to get themselves to and from work, especially if they’re not quickly located on a bus line,” Rachel Tecca, Executive Director of College and Career Academies of Akron, told FOX 8.
The decline of school-based driver’s education began in the late 1990s when the State of Ohio mandated a specific driving course for all teenagers and the state stopped issuing teaching licenses for driver’s ed. This effectively forced students and their families to go to outside driving schools.
“Before the age of 18, they’re required to take 24 hours of classroom and 8 hours of driving. That changed everything really. It became difficult for most school districts to be able to handle that program,” said Tom Kircher, an instructor with Driving Schools of Ohio.
Supporters say one of the most appealing components of the APS pilot program is the price.
Normally, driver’s education would cost $600 per student, but it is costing the Buchtel students and their families $325.
For teens with jobs after school or those participating in activities like sports, a driver’s license represents freedom.
“It’s important because I want to drive and I don’t have to ask anybody for help or anything,” said Kenmore-Garfield High Scool student Damian Dowdell.
Former students who still do not have their licenses, recognize that they are missing out on opportunities.
As he stood waiting for a bus on Thursday, 21-year-old Cory McArthur told us, “If they actually offered it at school, I’m pretty sure we would have a lot more young people who do know how to drive and actually have a license. If I had my license, I could definitely go a lot more places. I wouldn’t be here.”