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August 25. 2014 11:09PM

Proposed hike for Manchester's driver education course reversed

MANCHESTER — The tuition for the school district’s driver education program will not be going up after all.

The Board of School Committee on Monday voted to keep the tuition at $525 for the course, reversing a decision made at its previous board meeting to hike the rate by nearly 10 percent, to $575.

Reconsideration of the tuition hike was pushed primarily by Mayor Ted Gatsas, who has raised questions about how the program has been run.

The driver education program has accumulated a deficit over the last several years of approximately $180,000.

Gatsas was joined on Monday by other school board members in criticizing the planned tuition hike.

“I’m not going to advocate having students bear the expense of mistakes that were not their fault,” Ward 10 board member John Avard said. “I think that extra $50 per student is excessive.”

Program Director Mike Dubisz said the proposed $575 tuition for the course would still be comparable to other districts and private driving schools.

He also noted that registration for the fall course was already open and there has been a good response.

“It’s going very well. We’ve had a lot of sign-ups at the new rate,” he said. “Classes are not full, but they’re filling up,” he said.

District Business Administrator Karen DeFrancis recommended that the new tuition rate remain in place and that any changes to the program be assessed after the coming session.

But Gatsas and several board members pressed Dubisz for answers on how he allocates his staffing budget and other matters, and they were largely unsatisfied with the program director’s responses.

Assistant Superintendent David Ryan, who is responsible for overseeing the program, echoed these concerns.

“I’d like an opportunity to revamp the system, so it’s advantageous for the students and not the adults working in it,” he said.

The board voted to reinstate the $525 tuition and to have the administration report back to the board in November with proposed changes to the structure and organization of the program.

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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