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State law affects cost of drivers ed
Parents enrolling their students in Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) traffic safety program may notice a slight bump in cost from previous years.
Now with a price tag of $450, the new fee is a $50 increase. The reason for this, according to traffic safety program manager Mike Grady, is because of a new state law that allows such programs to administer both the written and driving portions of the licensing test.
FWPS’ traffic safety program is now the largest public-school-run program in the state. Last year, more than 800 students graduated from the program, according to Grady.
Last spring, the state Legislature passed a bill called House Bill 1635.
“Basically, it involved the Department of Licensing, where apparently there’d been a lot of complaints about the long lines at the Department of Licensing,” Grady said. “So to solve that problem, they decided to pass this bill, enabling public schools, or private businesses, to give out the knowledge test, otherwise known as the written test, and the skills test, otherwise known as the on-road test, to get their license.”
Grady explained that the slight increase in cost comes from the new ability to give the test.
For Grady and FWPS, this is a positive thing because of the convenience it will provide students and parents.
“We don’t want them to be shocked that our price went from $400 to $450 for drivers ed, because now the price at $450 includes the opportunity for their student to get their licensing examinations at their high school,” he said.
“So all of that is now rolled into one. We’re thinking positive here, that if they’re successful in drivers ed, they can do everything at their high school. And when they’re done with our program they can just show up at the Department of Licensing, pay their fee, and pick up their license.”
Grady also mentioned that FWPS students who enroll in the district program have an added benefit of convenience with an online scheduling program.
Grady attributed the program’s success on the fact that most of the program is taken care of internally, from maintenance to other fees. The program’s only goal is meet its costs.
“We’re not trying to make money, we’re trying to make costs. We’re not in it for a business, but we want to make sure we can still provide this service,” he said. “We’re not sitting here getting rich off of our students. Our knowledge test is free because it’s just a test. You go to the private vendors, they charge $25 to take the test.”
Grady emphasized that FWPS traffic safety program is only open to students within the district. Even with the new law, adult drivers who need to take their licensing exam, or students who live outside the district, cannot take advantage of the licensing tests offered by FWPS’ program.
Mostly, this comes from insurance considerations, Grady said.
“We’re very confident, and very excited to provide this for our students and our parents, because now, they can do everything at one site,” Grady said. “We just feel this is another service we can provide in this day and age, when things are tough, all the way around. Especially financially.”
To learn more about FWPS’ Traffic Safety program, visit www.fwps.org/dept/traffic.