Parking at School: A High Price to Pay?

In order to reserve a parking space at the GDS High School, a student must pay the school $500 per year. With GDS being only a few years away from unifying its two campuses, students are already buzzing with talk of free parking on the new grounds. While, in theory, free parking for students is ideal, students must continue to pay for their parking spaces due to a number of economic and environmental reasons.

Currently, there are 74 parking spaces available for students. After construction, there will be a River Road entrance to the school and two spaces will be lost, bringing that number down to 72. So, in 2020, assuming that all 72 spaces are purchased, the school will receive about $36,000 from student parking.

According to Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Houser, this money is a necessary source of revenue for the school.

“The rationale behind charging for a parking space is that we have a load calculation,” Houser said.

The money from parking does not become straight profit, but goes towards maintaining the high school building, the sports fields, the parking garage, and all of the facilities at GDS. The revenue is essential to the maintenance and upkeep of the parking lots.

“An institution like this needs to do one of two things to cover that cost. We need to either set aside money from other revenue sources, or we have to actually instate a ‘fee for service’ for these things,” Houser explained.

Instead of distributing that cost and taxing the whole school, administrators decided years ago that only the people using a parking space would have to contribute to the upkeep of the school’s facilities, namely the parking lot.

Senior Ana Gunther, who pays for her parking space at GDS, explained, “I think $500 is a lot of money for a parking spot, but I understand why they make us pay for parking spots because I know that building underground is expensive.”

In addition to the economic necessity of charging students for spaces, there is a clear environmental advantage as well. If a student has to pay for a space, they may be less inclined to drive to school and might instead use public transportation, reducing the amount of pollution from car emissions.

“One thing that we have to do as a school community is we have to decide that we agree that carbon footprint is a real thing. And we have to agree that noise pollution and vehicle pollution are a real thing,” Houser argued.

After the campus unification in 2020, there is a new plan to incentivize carpooling: if students drive multiple other students to school, the cost of their parking space will be reduced, possibly even made free.

Dean of School Life Quinn Killy expressed that there’s a shared benefit between the school, students and community when students choose to carpool.

While the specifics of this plan are still being debated, the faculty and staff are looking forward to this new initiative. Although it might be hard to see for the average student, the cost of maintaining the school we love is high and the environmental consequences of driving are as well. It is necessary that students continue to pay for their parking spaces and begin to work towards the eventual goal of every GDS student carpooling to campus.

By: Liana Smolover-Bord’21