Spaces are at a premium for students

Tri-State schools have varying policies regarding students who drive to school

Tri-State schools have varying policies regarding students who drive to school

June 28, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

If Albert Einstein had studied high school dismissal, he might have theorized on the relationship between parking space and time.

School parking lots get crowded.

Students with driver's licenses hurry to get to school and find a spot, and they hurry to get home.

To preserve order, Tri-State school administrators set limits - which students may receive permits, where they may park and how much they'll pay.

Starting this fall, Williamsport High School will allow only juniors and seniors to park vehicles at school, Principal John Davidson said.


Students in the National Honor Society get first crack at parking permits, followed by students in "diversified occupation" programs, which mix classroom instruction and on-the-job training. The remaining permits are given to other students.

At Hancock Middle-Senior High School, seniors and students who travel to Washington County Technical High School get preference when parking permits are handed out, Hancock Principal Warren Barrett said. Juniors are next in line, then others.

Barrett said the school gives out approximately 75 permits. A few parking spots are open at the start of each year, but "usually, by April, we're out of space."

Waynesboro (Pa.) Area Senior High School has stricter standards.

Students must be a junior or senior with a valid driver's license; have a cumulative grade-point average of 2.0 or better; have no more than 10 unexcused latenesses or absences the previous year (exceptions may be allowed); and have no major discipline problems.

Principal Jami Verderosa said the idea is to have responsible students driving to school. Students are told they could lose their parking permits if they drop below the standards during the year.

Smithsburg High School has an upper parking lot, next to the school, for students in extracurricular activities or other commitments and a lower lot for the rest of the student body.

A few spaces are set aside in case any student has a medical problem during the year, such as a broken leg, that requires him or her to park close to the school.

Students apply at the end of one year to get a spot in the upper lot the following year, Assistant Principal Jeff Gladhill said. The upper lot has about one-third as many spaces as the lower lot.

Every bit helps when it comes to smoothing the traffic and parking flow at school.

At Smithsburg, students can't drive away from school until the buses have left.

Gladhill said a new approach this past year - assigned spaces instead of open parking in the upper lot - eased congestion.

"One of the biggest headaches is that kids want to be late for school," said Nancy Springer, an assistant principal at Hedgesville High School in Berkeley County, W.Va.

Some students cut their arrival close to the opening bell and want a parking space that will get them to class "most expediently," she said.

Construction at the school this past year made the situation more difficult.

Lateness is a problem at Hancock, too, Barrett said. Last-minute drivers sometimes use the staff parking lot.

Now, Hancock will assign parking spaces by number. At the same time, the school is adding 20 new parking spaces.

Students will find free parking on a Monopoly game board, but not at school.

Waynesboro charges $5 a year. A permit at Hedgesville costs $25.

Smithsburg students pay $20 for the upper lot and $5 for the lower lot.

Hancock and Williamsport are both raising their fees, which had been $5. Permits will cost $15 at Hancock this coming year and $20 at Williamsport.

Davidson, Williamsport's principal, said further limits might be a good idea.

Perhaps only students who truly need to drive to school, for a job or an after-school activity, should get a permit, he said.

"Driving to school is a privilege," Davidson said. "It's not a right."

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