School parking fees on the rise

It started out innocently enough. Natick school committee officials voted last November to impose a $50 temporary parking fee on students at the high school.

School committee members said the fee was needed to manage demand for the limited parking spaces and to encourage more students to carpool.

“The committee is concerned about student safety. That is first and foremost the initiative with the fee,” said Lisa Tabenkin, who was the chair of the committee at the time.

Donna McKenzie, another school committee member, said the parking crunch at the high school is a sign of the times in an affluent community, with too many students driving to school.

“Having all these young people drive vehicles to high school does not seem (environmentally) sustainable,” McKenzie told the MetroWest Daily News. “We have to do whatever we can to encourage sustainability.”

Now the School Committee is raising the fee to $200, and there’s no talk of safety or environmental sustainability. School committee members say the $70,000 the new $200 fee is expected to raise is needed to balance the $68.6 million school budget.

“It was unusual that we had to increase fees to balance the school budget,” said Julie McDonough, the current chair of the school committee. “It’s not something we like to do.”

The parking passes go on sale Wednesday on a first-come, first-served basis. “We will not utilize a lottery or award HOV spaces for the 2019-2020 school year,” the school department’s website says.

High school parking fees are becoming commonplace. According to school websites, parking at Newton South High School is $350 per year, $100 at Beverly High School, and $250 at Wellesley High School.

The Weston High School website doesn’t mention what student parking permits cost or whether there is any cost, but whatever the charge maybe the school should increase it.

“Parking at the High School has become increasingly difficult as more students receive their licenses and drive to school. We do not have enough legal spots and parents, students, faculty and staff are forced to park illegally,” the school website says.



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