Recent Stories

My Parking Predicament

I park my car in protest.

I am a rule follower.  I understand that there are rules put in place for a reason, but regarding the rule about paying $75 to park in the McDowell parking lot for 26 days, I put my foot down on the brake.

I am a senior at McDowell High School and have been a student in the Millcreek Township School District for almost nine years. Throughout the years, I have grown to love the Millcreek schools I attended. The district has offered me so many experiences that I would never have  had the opportunity of experiencing if I hadn’t been a Millcreek student. I had the chance to learn how to play an instrument, travel to the nation’s capital, go to Chicago, and now, I have an internship in my career field.  All of the these opportunities have been offered at a significantly low fee compared to other programs, except for the internship.  

It’s not the internship itself,  but rather, the whopping fee of $75 it costs to park my mother’s minivan in the McDowell parking lot for the 26 days I will be driving to my internship.

I come from a family of seven with one source of income. Let me just say, seven people living on one teacher’s salary doesn’t give much room in a family’s budget.  My parents allocate their income wisely and effectively, but often there is little to no money left over once all the essentials are paid for.

Due to the internship parking dilemma, my mother called McDowell Senior High principal, Mr. Tim Rankin.  Since my family qualifies for the school’s reduced lunch program, we figured some sort of reduction could be arranged. Mr. Rankin gave us a financial waiver form to waive or reduce the parking fee.  On the very top of the waiver form was a statement taken out of the Millcreek Policy, Guideline Title 22, section 12.11.  It stated: “When policy guidelines impose a financial hardship on a student, the school district will assume the cost.  The Superintendent or designee shall implement procedures to assume that no student is denied participation in the school program for financial reasons and to guard the privacy of each student.”  As my family and I read that statement, we felt reassured that the situation would be solved.  

We were wrong. About two days later, after I had turned in the form back to Mr. Rankin, I was called down to the office to be told that the waiver had been denied. I was very confused.  After looking into the matter, I found that the waiver form I had been given covered only “instructional supplies,”..but what is that defined as? The way my family and I interpreted it was that a parking pass counts as instructional supplies because internship students or concurrent college students need a method of transportation.

And the issue of the matter is that there is no affordable way around the school board’s $75 parking fee.

I had just gotten my license about a month ago, so I had never been able to drive myself to school before.  I figured that since I would only be driving to school 26 times for my internship that the district would reduce the cost because I wouldn’t be driving as often as most students. Unfortunately, this did not happen.

Respecting the district, my parents, myself, and my neighbor (who I had offered to take to school) pulled together our money to buy a $75 parking pass, as there was apparently no other option.  So, I am paying almost $3 a day to park my mom’s minivan on a chunk of tar to go intern in a fourth grade elementary school classroom in Millcreek.

I did the math.  The price fluctuation between drivers who have been driving every day since the start of school are paying 42 cents a day, whereas in my situation of only driving 26 times, I’m paying $2.88 a day.  What!? To keep the price per day equal to all student drivers (the 42 cents a day), the price of parking in my situation should be $10.92.  Instead, I’m still required by the district to pay the full $75.

If someone could explain why on earth that is the case, please tell me.

When I was in fourth grade, the district provided me the opportunity to rent and learn to play the violin for only $25.  Now I’m renting out a piece of pavement to park a car for an educational internship for $75…how does that add up? I understand the need for a parking fee, as driving to school is a privilege, but $75 is excessive.

I am attending Slippery Rock University next year for elementary education, hence the reason for my internship.  Slippery Rock’s parking fee for one year is only $25 and that is for a college, not a high school. You see, college is optional,but high school is not.  Yet, the price of paying to park in a facility where students are legally obligated to go to is more expensive than a university where people choose to go.  Both Slippery Rock and McDowell are public institutions.

Just about 15 minutes away from McDowell is Fairview High School, similar to McDowell demographically speaking.  According to the secretary I spoke to, a parking pass only costs the student drivers $20 for the whole year, and the price goes down each quarter as there are less days to drive, which makes sense. At General Mclane High School, another school in the area, parking passes are only $5 a year!

I understand that the majority of students don’t necessarily need to drive to school; there are other options such as busing or carpooling. However in some situations, mine included, driving to school or an internship is the most practical and convenient method.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my school and school district.  Both have offered me many wonderful opportunities and experiences and have been nothing but kind to me.  I just think that it is absurd to be charging students $75 to park their cars on a slab of concrete so they can get to and from school, which they are legally bound to do.

Sure, charge me a fee to park, I’m okay with that! However the full $75 fee when I’m only parking for less than a quarter of the year is impractical.  The district should have a reduced fee policy or look into getting one for students in a situation similar to mine, an educational situation, or an altogether lower parking cost.

About Elise Heinlein

Elise Heinlein

Check Also

The Social Media Craze

The world of social of media is ever growing, expanding and inspiring to many people …

One comment

  1. I think that this is ridiculous! Why wouldn’t they lower the price for you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *