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Price of freedom increases for Wake students

Posted July 23, 2008

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— High school students in Wake County will have to pay more this year for the privilege of driving to school.

Parking permit fees are going from $120 to $170 at area schools – the first increase in eight years – prompting complaints from some students and parents.

"My response is why is this costing $50 more?" parent Jon Durst said.

Durst said his daughter, a senior at Athens Drive High School, has to drive almost daily because of her after-school activities.

"Whether it's practice or an SAT study course in Raleigh, the bus isn't an option," he said.

School board members said they needed the extra revenue from higher parking fees to offset less-than-desired funding from the county and rising diesel fuel costs that won't be picked up by the state.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners approved a $19 million increase in funding to the county school district for the coming year, but that was about $36 million less than what the school board requested.

"If we didn't have a budget shortfall, we wouldn't have to do this," school board member Beverley Clark said. "When we looked at it, we realized the fee hadn't been raised in a very long time."

The board backed away from a decision three years ago to double the parking fee when students complained.

Durst said he feels the increase still goes too far.

"I still don't understand the $50. Maybe $25, maybe I could've swallowed that," he said.

The district last increased the fee from $100 to $120 in the 2000-01 school year. Even the old fee was much higher than nearby school districts.

Durham Public Schools charges $75 a year, while fees in Cumberland County range from $10 to $60. Franklin County offered students the best deal – as low as $2 a year – while fees at Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools were $100 a year.

North Carolina State University also charges its commuting students less than Wake County schools, with a basic permit costing $99 a year.

Revenue from Wake County's school parking permits traditionally has been used for school security, but officials said the money generated by the fee increase will go into the district's general fund.

Clark said she hopes students who can carpool or ride the bus will do so.


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  • NCTeacher4327 Jul 24, 2008

    Some people seem to be forgetting that the point of SCHOOL is to get an EDUCATION. Extracurriculars are great, but at the school where I work, practices don't start till later. If you want to keep whining and complaining, let the kid ride the bus home, get their car, and go to practice. If kids start getting too late for practice, they'll have to change the time. Then, your kid can get home around 8pm to eat supper and do homework. That way, you'll have something TOTALLY NEW to complain about.

    Driving to school is not a right; it's a privilege. Cough up the dough, which can ONLY benefit your child's school, or take them yourself. You'll have more quality time with your kid.

    Just stop whining!

  • NCTeacher4327 Jul 24, 2008

    NCFF--I totally agree with you!

    PikeMom--Two kids can get together and split a parking pass. Just because the school doesn't allow 2 names on one pass, it doesn't mean that one kid can't just pay another kid for half of it and ride with them.

    Also, seniors are usually 18 or turning 18 during the school year...they can drive more people!

  • Dr. Dataclerk Jul 24, 2008

    Good! Maybe the students will leave the cars at home and do more walking. They can also catch the city buses. There is hardly any parking space as it is. So charge them. HOORAY!!!

  • TheAdmiral Jul 24, 2008

    1. Any time a government agency charges a fee, a charge, or interest, it is a T A X.

    2. I was against paying $10 to my high school for my own spot when the stated policy was first come, first served.

    3. If they are taking money to charge the parents for what they do not get from the School System, this is ILLEGAL and they should be brought up on charges of Tyranny and have the appropriate charges filed against them. And put the school board all on Probation.

  • superman Jul 24, 2008

    American use to be the home of the free and the brave. Now it appears to be the home of the "FREE" 30,000 car, 100 a month for gas, another 100 for insurance and they worry about 15.00 a month for parking. Someone had to pay for the land and the paving for the parking lot-- or was that another freebie? Going to a private school cost a couple thousand dollars but they give free parking-- now thats a real deal like on TV. The parking fee hasnt been raised in 8 years--they can always walk to school or make alternate choices of where to park. The little bit of money that is generated wouldnt buy a bag of groceries at Food Lion. Either pay the little extra parking fee or make other arrangements. I feel sorry for you and my heart bleeds for u. I dont have kids and 80% of my tax money goes to educate your spoiled kids. I am not real happy about that. If the extra 15.00 a month breaks your budet-- get another job.

  • NCFF Jul 24, 2008

    kb4mdy wrote:

    ...collecting money through a student fee to pay for general school system expenses to meet a budget shortfall is a TAX, and WCPSS board by NC State law does NOT have taxing authority.."

    This following description in WCPSS policy regarding the purpose of the fee (to provide security).

    This is a great observation as to the departure from stated policy (fees to offset specific costs incurred for security) -- and moving moneys into the general fund to support other budgeted WCPSS needs...indeed a "hidden tax" masquerading as a "fee".

    Great insight and observations. Kudos!

    This is probably the

  • FromClayton Jul 24, 2008

    I wonder if anyone has ever explored the posibility of charging parents for their kids to ride the buss? That would offset the gas needed to get them to school. I would say a flat fee at the beginning of the year. Maybe $25-50. Why should it be free? It puts a burdon on tax payers who have not rode a school buss in 20 years. Make the ones benefiting from the buss help offset the cost.

  • kb4mdy Jul 23, 2008

    The issue is not whether students who drive can afford it. The issue is that this action violates WCPSS school board policy that the purpose of this fee is ONLY to provide for parking security!
    Wake County Scools R&P 7180.4, Parking of Vehicles:
    "The superintendent, under authorization from the board of education, may establish rules and regulations related to security in and around school parking lots, and may impose a fee for parking to defray costs associated with the employment of personnel to establish such security. In the absence of such rules and regulations, an individual school may provide for the registration and regulation of motor vehicles as noted in 7180.5"

    IMO, collecting money through a student fee to pay for general school system expenses to meet a budget shortfall is a TAX, and WCPSS board by NC State law does NOT have taxing authority. Worse yet, as those paying the tax are typically under voting age, this is taxation without representation.

  • PikeMom4real Jul 23, 2008

    Clark said she hopes students who can carpool or ride the bus will do so.

    What part of 'under 18 only one passeger unrelated" is the LAW. She needs to talk to DMV before blabbing.

  • NCFF Jul 23, 2008

    I think it is strange all this whining about a $50 fee increase...last time I looked around the school's student parking lots (@ Garner) during the school year there were a lot of relatively new (< 5 years old) vehicles many in the $15K to $25K range when purchased....

    Somehow, it would seem that if you can come up with the $$$ for that kind of ride -- this $50 incremental increase shouldn't break the bank.