School Board Lowers Parking Fees By $20

Reducing Annual Charge Answers Rockingham Students’ Request

Posted: November 27, 2013

Turner Ashby High School students walk to their cars in the parking lot earlier this month. The Rockingham County School Board decided Monday to reduce the student parking fees from $50 to $30, beginning next school year. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
ELKTON — Students received a reprieve from an “exorbitant” parking fee Monday night when the Rockingham County School Board voted 4-1 to reduce the $50 annual expense to $30 starting with the 2014-15 school year.

Board members made the change after students asked the board to consider lowering the fee.

For about 20 years, parking fees at division high schools varied from school to school and year to year, but never exceeded $10. In the 2010-11 school year, the fee jumped to $50 at each county high school.

“I’m not saying we wouldn’t go back to $50 at some point,” said board Chairman Dan Breeden. “[But] I personally have felt like going from $10 to $50 [was] rather exorbitant.”

The increase three years ago to $50 brought the division in line with other area schools, countered board member John Myers, who cast the lone dissenting vote Monday against reducing the fee.

Though Harrisonburg High School charges just $25 for students to park at the school, and the Shenandoah County Schools division has no fee, Augusta and Page counties charge a $50 annual fee.

“We were way low, that’s one of the reasons we changed it,” Myers said. “[The fee] has already done a lot of good. It’s not exorbitant …  it’s a good source [of revenue].”

Of the $50, $10 went back to the individual school for parking lot maintenance or safety equipment and the other $40 was used for divisionwide safety needs, school officials say.

“All of the high school principals want to continue to see [the schools’ share of the fee at] $10 …  or more, if possible,” Spotswood High School Principal Steven Leaman told board members Monday night.

Allocation of the new $30 fee will be split evenly between the individual schools and the division.

Although changing the fee means losing $25 per student for safety measures, Breeden said that money could be drawn from elsewhere.

Between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2013, the $40 portion of the fee had generated more than $121,000 in revenue that has been used to beef up safety at school entrances, purchase security cameras, and make other safety improvements.

For the current fiscal year, the division is planning to use the funds raised — about $33,000 the division estimates — for a required local match for a safety grant the division received from the state.

“While I understand and appreciate and support wholeheartedly the safety initiatives, I think we can contribute to the level of safety innovation and leadership through other means,” Breeden said.

Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or esharrer@dnronline.com



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