The driver's training program in the William S. Hart Union High School District has crashed into a fiscal wall.
The district's board unanimously voted Wednesday night to scrap the behind-the-wheel program because the state has expropriated the funds originally designated for it. Classroom driver education courses, required by the district for graduation, will continue.
None of the board members was happy about eliminating the program, which provided both simulator and on-the-road training. But they said the district is already spending at a deficit and cannot afford the $187,000 annual cost.
"I think it's really sad, these safety issues, especially for our youth," said board member Patricia Hanrion.
Motorist fines were used to fund state driver education programs until 1990, when Gov. Pete Wilson transferred the revenue to the state's general fund. The district then started charging students $130 for the driver training course.
An appellate court ruled in December, however, that the fee violated the state constitution's guarantee of a free education. The court also declared Wilson's transfer of the fund was legal.
More than 200 school districts offered driver training classes before Wilson's decision. About 30 offer them now.
College of the Canyons in Valencia "has shown more than a passing interest" in taking over the Hart district's program, said Supt. Daniel Hanigan. He said the cost and instruction would probably be similar to what Hart schools offered.