Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Student parking: Fewer spots, higher fees

The high cost of free parking, chapter 29:

Raleigh high school students are upset about a plan to raise their yearly parking fee by $50, the News and Observer reports. It would go from $120 to $170 a year. In 2005, the Wake school board doubled the fee to $240 a year, but rescinded it after students complained. Charlotte-Mecklenburg students pay $25 a year. Durham students pay $75; Chapel Hill-Carrboro students pay $100.

No parking is free, it only looks that way. The cost of the land, the grading and the asphalt to pave school parking lots is absorbed by taxpayers. In 2006, a CMS architect told me each parking space the system builds costs $4,000 -- not including the land cost. Those same taxpayers also shell out for a complete mass transit system for students only -- school buses. (Note, school bus costs come from two different pots of public money: county and state.)

Call me heartless. My driver's license-toting high school daughter would shriek if she knew I was writing this. But I think schools should offer less parking and charge more for it. Yes, it would probably cost more for high school bus routes, but maybe not that much more. They've got to hire drivers anyway, and drive the routes for the kids who do take the bus. Many of the buses end up with empty seats anyhow, because so many kids drive. (OK, OK, offer a "hardship" option to low-income students if they can prove to the principal they need to drive to school and can't afford a higher parking fee.)

If parking cost more, more kids would walk, bicycle, take the school bus or a city bus, or carpool. The pocketbook talks.

15 comments:

Josh said...

Happy birthday, Mary! I think I'll erect a monument to the Confederacy in your honor today.:)

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you even let your daughter have a driver's license, Mary. Isn't it true that trains and buses and your feet will take you anywhere you want to go and that cars are evil? Or is that only true for everyone else?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The only problem with charging for student parking, is that the fee impacts poor families much more than it impacts wealthy families. Buffy and Thad shouldn't have more access to public facilities just because their parents can send them to school with blank checks.

eye_dee_ten_tea said...

If people can get a college degree online, why can't they get a high school diploma online?

Then you could save the cost of the schools AND their parking lots AND buses AND be more "green" AND eliminate a bunch of administrative costs to fund a 21st century solution.

Plus, without the buildings, there'd be no "school" violence, reduced gang activity, no need to call out CMPD on a daily basis, and put the responsibility for children squarely where it belongs: on the parent(s).

Sorry. I must have used the wrong kind of mushrooms in my omlet for breakfast this morning. What am I thinking?

Anonymous said...

If the driving age would go to 18 where it should be, at 16 kids are just not responsable enough to drive. then this would not be as big of an issue, and i would not have to worry about some kid with 7 of his friends in the car with the radio blaring and texting her cell phone hitting me.

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Anonymous said...

Aw you seem angry.

Anonymous said...
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Karina said...

I sure wish this blog would attact some less nasty folk. (Why is it not listed under blogs on the website by the way). Students should save their gas money and take advantage of the free bus system. My 15 year old son does not want to learn how to drive yet. He's happy riding his bike and taking buses, as well get getting driven by his parents.

Tom said...

If people can get a college degree online, why can't they get a high school diploma online?

Numerous reasons:

1) Online education assumes that the student is responsible enough to operate without a teacher. That is almost never the case at the high school level.

2) It also assumes perfect computer and internet functionality. Again, almost never the case -- ask anyone who's taken online college courses.

3) Aside from academics, the purpose of public education is to develop children socially.

4) If a family wants so desperately to be away from the public ed system, they can always homeschool. Online courses remove homeschooling responsibility from the parent and place it on the long-distance teacher... leaving me to wonder what exactly the child would be doing at home all day.

5) If you think gang activity and misbehavior would go DOWN when kids are no longer required to be physically present at school, you don't know kids too well.

eye_dee_ten_tea said...

I think you may have missed this bit, Tom:

put the responsibility for children squarely where it belongs: on the parent(s).

Tom said...

I didn't miss it, I just don't agree with it and I don't think anyone experienced with public school administration would either. How many parents do you think are REALLY going to sit looking over their 17-year-old's shoulder 8 hours a day to make sure they're concentrating on school?

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