TROY - The Troy Area Junior-Senior High School driver's education teacher spoke to the school board this week about the proposed elimination of the in-car driver's education program at the high school.

It's a voting item on the agenda at next week's school board meeting, along with other proposed eliminations and three furloughs.

Saying he wanted to discuss the proposed removal of the "Behind-the-Wheel" program, teacher Tim McAninch spoke about the impact of the elimination of the program on students and parents. He read from a long list of impacts, should the program be axed.

"There will be no formal instruction, unless they find a private company, and currently there aren't any local ones," he said, in opening his remarks.

"Even if they do find a private company, they're looking at about 300 bucks minimum."

He noted that during his time at the high school, he's been able to instruct more than 1,100 students.

He said permit holders would need to go to a DMV center for the road test, and would need to miss school to schedule a test.

"And to try to get scheduled in any timely fashion is virtually impossible," he said.

McAninch, who said he is certified as a third party tester, said that as of this week, 837 Troy students have earned their license with him.

Also, he noted that there will be 108 students remaining on the driving list to start next year that will miss out on the opportunity if the program is eliminated.

Noting the impact of the program's elimination on parents, he said they will be responsible for instructing the entire 65 hours of supervised driving and there would be no insurance discounts. He said they would need to take off work to go to a DMV center.

McAninch said that "I think we know that the leading cause of death for our 16 to 20-year-olds is motor vehicle accidents, as has been statistically accurate for years" and he thought it would be detrimental to lose the program.

McAninch also thought a computer instruction program, which was brought up, wouldn't "give them the realism that you get when you're behind the wheel." He thought it was akin to a video game.

Another speaker, Nancy Kinner of Alba, was also opposed to a "video model" of instruction.

"We can't use video games in place of actual behind-the-wheel driving."

She added, "I don't think that we want to risk our children's lives when we have a very valuable teacher here, a very valuable program here for our community. You're going to meet those 16-year-olds on the road yourselves."

Board vice president Dan Martin, who is in the transportation business, said he has a "mixed bag feeling" on the driver's education program, which isn't required. He said he has two teenage daughters and "we taught them how to drive, and it was fun for a minute."

"I would like to see a way to keep this program going with the driver's ed car myself; of course, I'm only one of nine," he said.

"I'd like to look at it, that's just my opinion."

School board member Rebecca Nauta said she concurred. She said she appreciated McAninch's instruction.

District superintendent W. Charles Young said he wanted to say on behalf of himself, the whole board, and the district business administrator, that "there's nothing that we currently offer kids that we feel is expendable. But as I tried to point out a month or so ago, you cannot continually get flat funding, have your expenses go up, and have it all work. Your budgets at home don't work that way, this one doesn't either. At some point, something has to go. Unless something changes politically in the arenas above the school board, meaning Harrisburg and Washington, we're going to see this year after year after year."

"And what is going to have to go first is going to be an analysis of the curriculum for the Chapter 4 curriculum guidelines. What does it say that we must give kids, what does it say we must offer kids, and what is it silent about?

He said, "we don't come to these meetings, or we don't come to work every day, saying, 'gee, what can we get rid of this time?' But we're going to see successive years of cuts. They're not going to be happy cuts. They're going to be sad cuts - sad for me, sad for the board, sad for the community. Because we're going to lose things we like, unless something changes. And unfortunately, it's beyond these nine people to change it."

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: reviewtroy@thedailyreview.com.