New parking plan devised for landlocked high school

By: 
Jamie Hult, Staff writer
Students currently park east of Brandon Valley High School in the former Dairy Queen lot, which will be paved by the fall with 90 permit parking spots. Jamie Hult/BV Journal

The new, color-coded parking program coming to Brandon Valley High School next school year encourages students to carpool to maximize available space.
Twelve hundred students are expected at Brandon Valley High School this fall, but the campus has parking spots for less than half of them.    
So, BVHS assistant principal Mark Schlekeway had to get creative. 
Schlekeway, who steps up to head principal following the 2018-19 school year, has been studying BVHS’s landlocked parking situation for years.
“I know percentages by period. I know everything about parking. I’ve spent way too much time on parking,” he told students assembled for a meeting on the new parking system last week.
Students currently pay $75 for an assigned spot. However, parking spaces are fewer than ever. Last fall, Schlekeway received word from the central office that parking would be changing the following school year.
“So that got me thinking,” he said. “When we have problems, or issues, what we need to do is brainstorm.”
High school administration considered two options. The first was open parking, or first-come, first-serve. Everyone would pay $100, but spots would not be guaranteed. 
BVHS is opting for the second scenario, however: permit parking, with incentives for students who carpool. 
Parking permits will be $100 unless a student carpools; then, permits are $75 for two-person carpools and $50 for three-person carpools. 
Each carpool student will get a parking tag, but only one can drive on a given day.
“It’s eco-friendly. It helps the environment,” Schlekeway said. 
Carpoolers will also be assigned to parking spots closest to the entrance. 
“It’s outside-the-box thinking. That’s what this is,” he said. “Your teachers are telling me that you guys are driving them nuts with parking talk.”
Administrators developed a color-coded map indicating the different permitted sections – red for three-person carpools, green for two-person carpools, tan for seniors, purple for staff, and blue for open parking. 
Seniors will have guaranteed spots in a lot on the north side of the high school. Underclassmen who don’t carpool will need to purchase a blue-coded parking permit for $100, and those spots are the farthest from the school. 
“I think it’s the best idea, to be honest,” said Jeremiah Donahoe, a freshman. “With the other open parking idea, I think everybody would just be running in there to get a spot as fast as possible. I like this. It has more order to it, and I think it’s the best option for what we’ve got right now.”
Staff parking is moving to the south side of the school, near the freshman wing – an announcement which received a big round of applause from students at the meeting – and the former Dairy Queen lot adjacent to the central office, which the school owns, will be paved and fitted for 90 parking spaces. 
Students currently park across the street at the Dairy Queen vacated space without permits. In the fall, they’ll need $100 tags to park there. 
“So you’re guaranteed a spot, but if you come to school a little late, that spot may be at the central office,” Schlekeway said. 
Students had mostly positive feedback following the meeting. 
“I think it’s actually a really good idea,” said Bailey Harvey, a current sophomore. “Then everyone has a chance to be in the parking lot and have a spot so they can get to school instead of walking off campus.” 
Abbie Hoff, a sophomore classmate, already rides to school with two other students, and said she plans to purchase a carpooling tag for $50. 
Parking applications were available to students last Wednesday, and they’re due at the BVHS office May 29. If BVHS doesn’t get many carpoolers, the blue-coded sections will be enlarged. 
The new parking system doesn’t account for incoming freshmen unless they’ll be carpooling. On May 30, Schlekeway will be meeting with this year’s eighth-grade class to let them know what the high school will have available for open parking. 
“So this map is going to change before the first day of school, depending on what people sign up for,” he said. “I don’t know the unintended consequences. What I know is we have to try something.”
Not everyone is thrilled with the price tag associated with the new system, however.  
“I don’t think we should be paying for parking,” said Jasmine Cox, a freshman. “I think I’d rather walk.”

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