Parking at school becoming a luxury?

Illustration by Levi Miles

At the February regular meeting, the school board discussed raising the annual parking permit fee at the high school from $10 to $50. This change is expected to bring in $6,750 more than the current parking permit fee. This translates to approximately 170 parking spots.

The purpose of raising the fee is to help alleviate the district’s budget deficit.

“It’s not something that we want to do,” said vice principal Mark Weddig, “but it might allow us to save something else in the budget.”

According to Weddig, there is no specific use planned for the $6,750. This money will be placed in the school’s general fund. The school realizes that this increase in price will cause some changes.

“We assume that we will sell less permits but still bring in more revenue because of the higher cost,” said Weddig.

Junior Eric Helstad expects that some students will discover ways to avoid buying a parking permit.

“The Lunda Park parking lot is just an extra 100 yards away,” said Helstad. “I’m sure kids would just park there and walk a little extra each day rather than pay $50.”

Teachers do not have to pay for parking permits. They can park in the faculty lot for free. There is a simple explanation for this.

“Teachers aren’t offered a bus ride for free everyday,” said Weddig.

Weddig does not feel that a $50 annual parking fee would be an outrageous expectation.

“For a community like Black River Falls, I think [$50 is reasonable],” said Weddig. “At Appleton high schools, they charge $400 a year.”

In neighboring Sparta, students currently pay $25 to park at school. Some students must walk farther than others, but there are enough spots for everyone. This is not the case throughout the state.

At Germantown High School, students pay $149 to park for an entire school year. However, there are only 300 to 400 spots to accommodate the 1,400 students. Students must apply for parking permits.

“Not everyone that has a car can have a spot,” said Germantown High senior Ben Xue.

Twenty miles northeast of Germantown in Port Washington, Wis., students pay $100 for an annual parking permit. At Hamilton High School in Sussex, a parking permit costs $80. Hamilton uses a different method for assigning parking spots.

“They use a lottery to assign parking spots,” said Hamilton High School senior Talon Zarling. “The first name drawn gets the closest spot, and they keep drawing names until [all the applicants] have a spot.”