Should student parking be free?

After a long break caused by quarantine, I was happy to return to school. Not only to return, but to drive to school and not ride the dirty, old school buses we’ve been forced to use since Kindergarten. 

After a couple of days of comfortably driving to school, I overheard kids in the parking lot say that we’d have to pay to park. What? Not only that, but the parking permit is $80. I didn’t believe it. I planned to park in the back of the parking lot, like my friend did the last time we were in school. Then one Friday afternoon, I found an orange paper on my car windshield that read, “Towing Begins September 20th.” Now I had no choice but to pay. 

To me, it’s simple. We already have to come to school and most of the students that use the parking lot are seniors. So, after being forced to ride the uncomfortable, creaky and unsanitary buses for all of our educational careers, we should be rewarded with free parking. 

I contacted Blake’s Financial Administrator, Ms. Jacob, and she said that the amount of $75 (without tax) is set by the county and all of the revenue from the parking fees are used for “interscholastic athletics.” We should find a different way to pay for that. Most of us have to pay for gas anyway, so that $80 can be reallocated for a more efficient purpose. Seniors are the students that use the parking lot the most, meaning we are on our way to college in less than a year. We can use those $80 for college textbooks or the ridiculous application fees. We are high school students, so most of us are dead broke with no job and parents who aren’t made of money. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for all of us to just give away $80 to the school. What is that $80 being used for anyway? It seems like a way for MCPS to swindle its students for a little extra cash. 

Hypothetically speaking, what would happen if no students drove to school? Would the administration encourage students to drive so they could collect the fees? Would they find another way to get money from us? Why have a designated spot for students to park their cars while they learn, only to charge them for it? It’s like a person has 1,000 pairs of plain white Vans, that they don’t use or need. Then, 200 people come and ask for a pair, and the seller charges them $100 each. It doesn’t make sense. You don’t need them and aren’t using them, but you want to charge people for them. Maybe it’d be different if this was a business, where supply and demand rules were the norm, but it isn’t. This is a school where the staff should try to help us the best way they can. And yet, it seems like our needs aren’t lining up with each other.

The school could definitely find a better way to make that money. They could organize a fundraiser if they really wanted the money, or a charity flag football game. Blake could also coordinate a walk-a-thon or maybe a cook-off. There are better ways to find the funds they are looking for instead of taking our money.