Last June, I sat on my laptop during Citizen Education, frantically typing away on Change.org about how much I didn’t like the new parking system being incorporated. Now, I’m here to say the near opposite.
I’m sure at least one person saw my name next to an Op-Ed about parking and thought ‘oh boy, here we go again’ because of how strongly I opposed the parking change last June. Like any good politician, I’ve flip-flopped. This parking system really works. It’s not perfect, but there is a lot more order than the wild west model of years past. Twice now, I’ve sat down with Mr. Milliken to discuss the parking system (once in June 2019, and again the following November), and both conversations held a common theme: we’re moving in the right direction, but future changes will be necessary.
Up until last year, the parking system was as follows: once you had a permit (determined by lottery), you parked wherever you wanted. Just over 200 spots, and this bred issues. Not everyone was able to get the spot they wanted, and as a result of this, both parents and students alike were upset. Without assigned parking, parking without a permit ran rampant throughout the school’s parking lot. This system was chaotic and generated an exponentially higher amount of parking offenses. This created busy work for our administrative team, and it took time away from more important subjects.
This system worked the most for seniors, who received priority parking. It was a tradition that seniors received spots before everyone else, and when we lost that privilege going into our senior year we were upset. Two petitions circled the grade, parking became a hot discussion topic in any class we found downtime, and we just weren’t happy with the change. We ended up getting our priority back along with a few other changes.
It will take much longer for me to describe the new system, and that is part of what makes it so great. The system has what its predecessor didn’t: structure.
The lottery pool begins with seniors who carpool receiving the first chance and a virtual guarantee at a parking pass. This is followed by seniors who do not carpool, then juniors who carpool, and lastly juniors who drive themselves.
In order to be considered a “carpool driver” the spot must be used by 2 or more drivers who not only have licenses, but also vehicles they would be driving to school if they didn’t carpool. This is meant to reduce the number of students in the lot, and it does a great job at that. Instead of two students taking two cars, they take one and can switch the pass between each other’s cars.
Spots all are now assigned to a specific pass, meaning every day you come to school you are guaranteed your spot and anyone else who parks there will receive a “real-world” punishment, which has deterred illegal parking. (I don’t know many people who enjoy dealing with tickets or their car being towed).
In order to make sure these spots are going to their rightful owners, Mr. Blouin is often in the parking lot checking cars to make sure they have a pass and are in the correct spot. This reduces stress coming to school in the morning, as you no longer wonder whether or not you’ll be able to park, even though you have a pass.
These consequences, along with a well-developed system, make parking right now easier than ever. Instead of rushing to school to battle for a spot, I arrive on my terms and park in my spot. The only time spot 42 wasn’t open for me was when my classmate in spot 43 accidentally took it, and for the day we just swapped. Organization and order have made things much easier.
While a parking committee similar to last year hasn’t been formed yet if one is it will have long term problems to solve. The solution they created has worked for the current size of the school, but if class sizes continue to grow at the rate they have, the percentage of students who park will go down by the year. They will need further change, whether it is adding more space, forcing carpools, or only allowing seniors to park.
Changes to the system could come in many forms, but I trust the problem-solving team in charge to make the right decisions for the school community moving forward. They certainly proved me wrong last year, and hopefully can slowly but surely improve the parking system for years to come.
In short: I was wrong. It’s not the first time it’s happened, and it certainly won’t be the last. The parking system last year was admittedly a mess, and my peers and I were stubborn when presented with change. For over a week my energy was focused on petitions and other anti-parking change tasks, and I can now wholeheartedly say it was a waste of time. Seeing the system in execution has silenced most critics, and certainly has helped our school become a better place, even if we only spend a fraction of our day in the parking lots.