• NC lawmakers consider driver's education funding in budget talks

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    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It appears there's some hope for the state to continue paying for driver's education courses.
     
    It's been a key sticking point in budget negotiations.
     
    Lawmakers said they're working on a compromise after extending their budget deadline another three weeks.
     
    The budget, as it stands right now, does not have funding for driver's ed.
     
    This has left local high schools like South Mecklenburg scrambling to find money for the program and driving schools worried they will have to close their doors.
     
    Last week, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools had to suspend driver’s ed programs until funding is available.
     
    Funding for the class have been dwindling since 2012. Last year it was just $25 million.
     
    According to a Raleigh television station, some senate lawmakers have been critical of the program. They believe driver's ed may be a waste of taxpayer dollars, because a high percentage of students fail the drivers license test at least once.

    Senate budget chairman Harry Brown said that both Houses are now negotiating to try to restore funding for driver's ed programs for at least this school year.

    One local lawmaker from Cabarrus County said she supports funding for driver’s ed. But she also said state reports show the program needs an overhaul to include better technology and an online component.
     
    Friday, lawmakers extended the budget deadline to Sept. 18.
     
    One of the biggest questions is whether the state will continue paying for teacher assistants.
     
    CMS said it may furlough teacher assistants if there isn't a budget by the end of next week.
     
    Lawmakers who support teacher assistant pay are urging teachers to reach out to opponents.
     
    “I think there's going to be a budget deal in the next couple of weeks. So for people who want to have their voice heard now is the time,” state Sen. Jeff Jackson said.
     
    Jackson shadowed a teacher assistant at a Charlotte elementary school yesterday.
     
    State Sen. Joyce Waddell will shadow a teacher assistant Friday.

    CMS posted this statement regarding the budget on Facebook Friday:

    The news of another continuing budget resolution is very disappointing, especially for the hundreds of CMS teacher assistants who reported to work this week eager to help our youngest students learn and grow. CMS has not yet seen the details of the resolution. Once we have details, we will decide on the status of teacher assistants and Driver Education until a final state budget is approved. We will share those decisions next week.

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