Administration, students disagree on parking permit fees

Arianna Farner, Social Media Manager/Staff Writer

On a regular basis, students at Akins hear a familiar warning during the morning intercom announcements: they must purchase a parking permit or risk being booted.

These announcements often result in eye-rolling by students, who are annoyed with the prospect of paying the $40 fee. Parking permits are a common fact of life for high school students all over the country, but there appears to be a disconnect at Akins between students and administrators about how to enforce the rules surrounding it.

Parking permit policies are similar at most schools. They usually all require students to supply standard information like the make, model and license plate number for their vehicles so the administration can quickly identify the owners of the vehicles in case there’s an accident in the parking lot. However, there are three other requirements that tend to become obstacles that discourage students to register their vehicles: providing auto insurance information, students not having drivers licenses and the permit’s $40 price tag.

Akins’ parking permits are significantly more expensive than other schools around the area, consider- ing other schools tend to keep their prices around or below $20, half of the price of an Akins’ parking permit.

While I understand the shock students experience when they nd out how much permit costs, I believe that they would be more likely to pay for a permit if they knew what the money goes toward. Additionally, I think students would be more likely to register their vehicles if the fee was reduced to be more in line what other Austin ISD schools charge for parking fees.

For most students, $40 seems like too much to pay to simply park on campus, considering students also have to pay for auto insurance. Insurance is legally required for all drivers in case of an accident and can cost hundreds of dollars depending on their amount of coverage. I believe a reduction in the parking permit fee is the perfect middle ground for both administration and students. It will help meet the administration’s need to ensure safety in the parking, and help students better afford their required auto insurance.

Most, if not all, students don’t know what the money from the parking fees goes toward. Associate Principal Manuel Garcia said the money from parking permits goes into an account specifically for maintenance of the parking lots, including things such as new signs, painting parking lot stripes and buying new golf carts to monitor the campus. It must be used for something that improves the parking lots.

To incentivize students to register their vehicles, the administration recently approved a new program that allows seniors to purchase a reserved parking spot and paint it with a personal design that is approved by the administration. Garcia said that he and administration hope that the new incentive of having a customized and reserved parking spot will influence more people to register for parking permits. A parking permit is needed to get the reserved spot so students will have to be registered for a permit before painting their parking spot. e privilege of having a painted and reserved parking spot will add an extra $30 to a student’s parking bill, totaling $70 not counting painting supplies.

There appears to be a disconnect between what students think the problem is compared to what the administration thinks the problem is. Most students are unhappy with the price and don’t understand why they should have to pay it. Currently, the administration doesn’t think that the price is a problem and the real problems are that students cannot afford insurance or don’t actually have a valid driver’s license. ey are concerned with the safety in the parking lots because of previous accidents. Garcia said that there were three major accidents last year due to lack of carefulness. Students rush to class in the morning while parents also are rushing to get their kids to class on time. is causes accidents when people aren’t paying attention to the road. When students have their vehicles registered, this ensures that those who have parking permits would be insured to cover any accidents that might happen on campus. Safety is the No. 1 concern of the administration, Garcia said.

I believe there is a lack of communication causing disagreements about the policies and misunderstandings from both sides. Both students and administrators can do a much better job in communicating their points of view with and work to keep everyone safe in the parking lots.