Partnership Provides Driver’s Education Program

Ponca City Now - May 6, 2024 7:16 am

Ponca City Public School, School Board Members, Ponca City High School, and Stuteville Chevy/GMC and Stuteville Ford are excited to partner to provide a Driver’s Education summer program for Ponca City High School students. Stuteville Chevy/GMC and Stuteville Ford have graciously leased two vehicles to the school at $1 per car for the first year to promote the program.

“We are excited and honored to be able to partner with the Ponca City Schools driver’s education program. We believe every student should have the opportunity to obtain their drivers’ license,” General Manager Jason Hawkins of Stuteville Chevy/GMC. “Helping students in our community is not just what we do, it is who we are,” said General Manager Ronnie Williams of Stuteville Ford.

Ponca City High School has completed the 2024 summer student list for the pilot program. Two full-time teachers, Ms. Rhonda McCormick and Mr. T.J. Liles, both holding Oklahoma certifications in driver’s education, will lead the course. The application process opened at 8am April 3, 2024 and by 8:02 am more than 40 student applications had been submitted. Applications were approved on a first-come, first-served basis if the student met state requirements.

Driver’s Education classes in public schools were reduced significantly with public school fund cuts in the early 2000s. This cut coincided with the decrease of student interest in obtaining a driver’s license. For a lot of teenagers, getting a driver’s license when they turn 17 or even 18 has become much more common. And recent studies show they have a few reasons to put off getting their license: Dealing with the demands of school and home; Fewer school-based programs that support driver’s education; Cost of private driver’s education programs; and Lacking the funds to buy/own and maintain a car. In addition to these challenges, some teens just don’t see the importance of getting a license at 16 anymore—even if they have the means to do it. And by delaying the quest to obtain their license, it’s become a lot easier to opt out of teenage drivers ed altogether. One study found that more than 1 in 5 U.S. teens never took driver’s education before getting their licenses (idrivesafely.com, 2024).

Ponca City employers have voiced the need for more applicants who have a driver’s license. Many jobs require some driving, even if that’s not the primary responsibility. Employers prefer employees to have a driver’s license simply for commuting to and from work. During a job interview, it is common to be asked if you have “reliable transportation to and from work?” If a person is not able to answer that question with a confident yes, employment opportunities could be limited.

Local businesses feel job candidates are more likely to be responsible and be able to better plan and provide for themselves and their families when they have a valid Oklahoma driver’s license, even if it is not required for the job duties.

Ponca City Public Schools began investigating how to bring the driver’s education service back to the community in the fall of 2023. PCPS Superintendent Adam Leaming said, “It was clear in our conversations with local businesses, our students, and our families that they wanted a driver’s education program. Our challenge was to find community partnerships and staff who could take on this task to ensure students meet all Oklahoma requirements and that the district could provide a quality service for our community. I hope this pilot program can grow and that one day we can provide driver’s education to any student and family in our school district.”

Beginning May 28th, the bright student driver cars will be on the road. The 2024 first-class has forty students. The cost of the program is $225 per student. Each student must show proof of age and be at least 15 years old on the first day of the class. The course will also qualify for an elective credit toward high school graduation. Scholarships were made available by the school district to 10 students, based on economic need. If a business or individual is interested in providing a scholarship for a student in the program, or contributing financial support for the continuation of the program, please contact Erika Johnson at the Board of Education, 767-8000.

 

 

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