Parking Spot Fee for Students to Double Next School Year

Cars parked in the GDS high school garage. Photo by Olivia Brown.

GDS will significantly increase the price for students to park on campus next year in an effort to make the school more environmentally friendly and reduce traffic in the neighborhood.

The base price of the parking spots at the school will double from $900 for the 2021-2022 academic year to $1,800 for the 2022-2023 academic year. Currently, there are 50 parking spaces available to juniors and seniors. There is now a $300 price reduction for each student driver who brings another student passenger to school, a discount that will increase to $600 next year in tandem with the price increase.

The higher price for parking is intended to provide additional incentives for students to carpool, GDS’ chief financial officer, Jeffrey Houser, told the Bit. Starting next year, a student driver with no passengers will have to pay $1,800 for parking, but a carpool of four people will park for free.

“For anyone driving, bringing passengers, and more of them, the cheaper it really becomes,” Houser said. Financial aid will be applied to the fee of parking spaces at the same rate as tuition.

GDS must limit the amount of traffic to school under an agreement with its Advisory Neighborhood Commission, an advisory council elected by residents that deals with zoning and other local issues. Houser acknowledged that the commitment is one of the reasons for implementing the new pricing system.

Adding to GDS’ need to reduce traffic, the other main reason for the 100 percent price increase “is that we as an institution have a commitment and we’ve talked about a commitment to going green,” Houser said.

The school has not publicized the change to the student body. Instead, students will receive the information about the fee structure after asking about purchasing a parking space, Houser said. If there are more interested students than there are spots, the school will hold a lottery. 

All three students interviewed by the Bit who currently park at the school are unhappy about the price increase. Two were shocked to hear about the change in interviews with the Bit

Senior Felicia Paul, who has been parking at GDS since the beginning of this school year, is skeptical that even a significant price increase will lead to more carpooling. “If people were going to carpool,” she said, “it would have already happened, especially with the shift to the unified campus and their emphasis on carpooling or biking to school.”

Students who live within one mile of the school or a Red Line Metro station will be on a different payment plan altogether: They will have to pay $2,400 for a parking space next year, with the same $600 discount for passengers. Houser explained that the idea behind the higher fee is that people living in that proximity to GDS or the Metro “would certainly be able to choose an alternative mode of transportation.” 

Paul said that drivers who live close to GDS should not be charged more so long as they carpool like other students. “They’re still helping with reducing the amount of people who drive to school because they’re carpooling,” she said.

Selene Ko, the parent of a high school student, said in an interview with the Bit that families may not be in a position to pay the doubled price for the parking spots even if they do not qualify for financial assistance. “There could be an inequity issue there,” she said. 

Senior Sophie Zinn drives three students to school in the morning and sometimes brings one home in the afternoon. She parks at GDS for free.

She said that she believes the new system will work to increase the amount of carpooling due to the coercive impact of the price increase. “It’s just forcing them to make that decision because otherwise they have to pay an absurd amount of money that not everyone can just dish out for a parking spot,” Zinn said.

Junior Jacob Getlan, who drives his brother to school, told the Bit that he will still purchase a parking spot despite the price increase. “It might create a little bit of an incentive for me to carpool,” he said.

He added that the people who currently park at the school are willing to pay the current, relatively high price, and that he does not think the new cost will “necessarily stop them too much from committing to it next year.”