The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The Petty Parking Permit Process

You have just received your license. You are brimming with joy as you imagine finally getting to drive to school on your own. You will avoid the freezing walk to your overcrowded bus, on which the ride takes three times longer than it should due to multiple unnecessary stops. But then, there is something getting in your way of this freedom: the parking permit process. How can you be denied a spot in the student parking lot?! Does this complaint sound familiar?

Now I originally began this article with the idea that it would be a ranting editorial about the ridiculous conditions of the parking permit process at WJ. Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for you, I have to admit that I have learned a lot about the subject, and I was proven wrong. This process, though slightly convoluted, is not in fact as absurd as it seems, and I’m here today as the bearer of truth.

My first complaint about the process was the hierarchy of priorities for student drivers as determined by the permit application. I was appalled that the SGA received priority over others for no apparent reason, and that students must be committed to school-sponsored extra-curricular activities in order to receive a permit.

However, through interviews with security team leader Howard Beaubien and SGA secretary Nicholas Regan, I learned that parking permits are issued to those students who participate in school-related activities that require them to stay late and/or leave early. So the main reason for the priorities of who receives permits is determined by who will be using the parking lot outside of normal school hours.

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Apparently, such SGA meetings actually take place quite often, as the SGA must attend all meetings called by Principal Christopher Garran, SGA sponsor Nico Atencio, or the Booster Club.

Regan admits that the majority of after school commitments occur in condensed time periods, such as the beginning of the year before Homecoming, and now in February for the extensive Pennies for Patients campaign.

“This month in particular is huge for us, so the benefit of having a parking permit is crucial,” he said. “February consists of doing many errands to help move along the Pennies for Patients campaign, so that means a lot of driving to and from the bank, Kinko’s, local businesses, our mothers’ workplaces to get some quick comfort from all the chaos, and any fast food places that would satisfy the hunger of the hardworking Leadership class.”

My second complaint was the price of the parking permits, given that the parking lot is public school property, and the fact that the athletic department receives the funds from the permits. County policy mandates that the athletic department at each school benefits from the profit from the parking permits, which I found rather odd. With some research and interviews with athletic director Sue Amos, I discovered that the county does not actually give the athletic department the full funds that it allocated the department.

Instead, the county budget-makers keep in mind the amount of money that the department should receive, and then they only actually send the department a portion of that amount, after subtracting the predicted profit from parking permits (based on number of spaces). After the athletic department receives the money from the parking permits, the county makes sure the final amount of money received matches the allocated amount. Therefore, the athletic department doesn’t actually receive any more money than any other department, but the process of receiving it is much more complicated.

My last complaint still stands – there is no real place on the application form to indicate how often one will use the parking permit, and there is no way to describe extenuating circumstances. For instance, someone could be only allowed to drive one day a week, but easily receive a parking permit as long as she has extra-curricular activities or is on the SGA. So does that still make them a higher priority than someone not involved in extra-curriculars (or on the SGA), but who has no other safe way of getting to school?

Quince Orchard High School offers daily parking permits that cost $2.00 per day for people with specific “temporary parking needs” such as doctor’s appointments. This is a great way to help students with extenuating circumstances, or those who will only be able to drive one day per week (assuming a semester is 18 weeks, those who drive once a week would actually save money by buying temporary permits). Beaubien suggests that this is not necessary at WJ, because students can park in the neighborhood adjacent to the Davis Library. However, there are only about six parking spaces in that area where one is not in danger of being towed, so I beg to differ.

I’m not suggesting that the school should take away the restrictions on parking permits, nor am I suggesting that we should expand the parking lot to make sure that every single student driver gets a space. I am suggesting, however, that there be some other criteria. Maybe the application should include verification that the applicant does not have unexcused absenses, or a place to list any other students that can carpool with the applicant. Having more carpooling drivers would make the parking lot more effective, efficient and safe, and permits should be given to those students, rather than single one-day-a-week-ers.

And for those of you who were complaining about the SGA priority hierarchy or the complex destination for the profit from the permits – consider yourself informed, and you can stop complaining.

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