Putting it in park



By Avery Maslowsky, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Senior Everly Kase steered her red Volvo into the Conestoga parking lot the morning of Oct. 5. Her eyes spotted flying apple cider corks and flashing cameras angled at seniors atop truck beds. But as Kase slammed her door and ran into the crowd of tailgating seniors for homecoming weekend, the last thing on her mind was the parking pass left in her cup holder. 

Following second period, Kase prepared to leave school for her Allied Health class at the Paoli Hospital. Once in the parking lot, she reached into her backpack to fish out her car keys and looked up to see a yellow “WARNING” label plastered across her driver’s side window. 

“It said, ‘you are parking in a restricted area. Your license number has been recorded and if you park again we will tow you.’ I didn’t know what it meant until I saw I didn’t have my parking pass on the dashboard,” Kase said.

The new plastic student parking pass does not fit around Kase’s rear-view mirror. She said every morning she must remember to put the pass on her dashboard, and on Oct. 5 it slipped her mind. 

The sticker stuck to Kase’s window is just one of the enforcement measures within the four-day student parking system. Seniors, except those in Allied Health or the Teaching Academy, are now only allowed to park four days a week to accommodate larger numbers of student parkers.

Passing by: Senior Claire MacGibbon hangs her parking pass and her Allied Health parking permit on her rearview mirror. MacGibbon bought a maroon pass because she needs to drive to Allied Health every day

Four-day student parking system implemented for new school year

In a speech made to the senior class on the first day of school, vice principal and head of student parking Dr. Patrick Boyle announced that “stricter monitoring” would come with the new parking system. Just six weeks after the speech, Boyle said he is seeing a dramatic change in student parking habits under the new system.

“So far for the school year, we have only had nine violations. Compared to last year by this time we had 50 to 52,” Boyle said. “Students are holding themselves more accountable now with what days they get to park. I think they are fearful of the (new) repercussions.” 

Students with registered license plates parking illegally in the lot face new consequences as well. Boyle announced on the first day that no warnings would be given. First-time offenders face one Evening Supervised Study and a loss of privileges for five days, including free periods. Second-time offenders face one Saturday detention and thirty days without privileges and third time offenders face one Saturday detention and a full marking period without privileges. However, Boyle said no students have passed the first-time offense. Any unregistered vehicles get the sticker as a warning, but license numbers are recorded. But, Boyle said the stickers are not new at Conestoga. 

In the fall of 2017, Boyle said administration noticed a significant increase in students wanting parking passes and those parking on a day-to-day basis. Last year by October, Boyle said the school sold around 310 driving passes to the senior class. Despite the student lot only having 265 spaces, Boyle said overselling passes is normal, and usually manageable with absent students.

“We oversell because on a given day a good chunk of seniors aren’t here. We wanted to maximize the amount of students who could park. But last year, we noticed that more students were parking consistently each day, which caused students to have to park in the back row of the teacher lot,” Boyle said. “There aren’t words to describe parking last year, but we knew we needed change.”

Last November, district administration looked to create a new parking system better fit for more student drivers.

Through the spring of 2018, school administration met with parents and students to hear suggestions on new parking systems. Boyle said that by March, three ideas stuck out as possible options: a lottery per semester, marking period parking and a weekly four-day pass. Boyle also said students wanted stricter repercussions for those parking illegally. 

“After talking with students, we heard that they preferred a four-day driving system as opposed to a semester-based system,” Boyle said. “I actually preferred the semester system at first, because I worried that a four-day system would be too complicated, but now it really isn’t.”

Out and open: Within the new four-day parking system, extra spaces are open daily for students to park, as fewer seniors are parking on a day-to-day basis. In October 2017, the student parking lot filled up entirely, leaving seniors to park in the back of the teacher lot.

While school administration met with the Student Executive Council and hosted drop-in sessions to evaluate student preferences, the district looked into expansion for student parking. 

“The District administration and the Board are constantly evaluating what is needed at our school buildings. Any proposed construction project takes time to develop. Depending on the scope of the project, it can take several years to complete due to the multiple steps that need to be taken,” said vice president of the School Board and head of the Facilities Committee Michele Burger. 

Starting Aug. 20, eligible seniors could submit a parking permit application. Within the application, students indicated which day of the week they would prefer not to park. This system operates under color-coded passes, which symbolize the day a student cannot park in the lot. A blue pass means no parking on Monday, orange on Tuesday, green on Wednesday, yellow on Thursday and purple on Friday. A special maroon pass was sold to students in Allied Health and Teacher Academy, allowing them to park every day, as part of the requirement for such educational programs that require student driving. Boyle said that as of now, parking passes to not park on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays are sold out. 

“We are always open to students coming in and telling us how they feel.”

Dr. Patrick Boyle, Vice Principal

Regardless of the color, every parking pass still costs $180, a district-set flat price.

“There was a rumor that seniors in the past who parked every day paid a dollar a day to park. But let me emphasize that is a rumor,” Boyle said. “Just like as if you were playing one sport and are charged the $50 activity fee, and someone else plays two and is still charged $50, everyone pays $180 to park.”

 Burger said the $180 price point was set in 2010 as a result of a district-wide deficit and noted that all proceeds made from student parking go directly into the General Fund of the District budget.

But despite the flat price for all students, senior Hailey Speicher sees the one price as unjust, considering she cannot park every week.

“My parents are divorced, and I only have a car at my mom’s house,” Speicher said. “I only can park every other week and then I can only park four times a week, but I still have to pay the same $180 that someone who can park four days a week.”

Student reactions to the parking system have been mixed, with most concerns revolving around pricing.

“I don’t have any complaints about the parking except the pricing, ” senior Andrew Kese said. 

Boyle said while no changes can be made for the current school year, he wants students to share their opinions and concerns so they can be taken into consideration for the 2019-2020 student parking policy.

“We are always open to students coming in and telling us how they feel,” Boyle said. “Here at Conestoga there is a certain degree of respect between students and teachers. My door is always open for students who have new ideas. And nothing (regarding student parking) is set for next year.”

Avery Maslowsky can be reached at [email protected]