Mason turns to lottery system to distribute remaining parking passes


A car parked in the upper lot closest to the school, which used to be the senior lot, with a parking pass on its back windshield.(Photo by Sierra Sulc)

Fernanda Molina, Editor-in-Chief

The George Mason administration has decided to fight controversy with another unpopular decision. After a tumultuous few years of conflict between where students should park and teachers being left without parking spaces, GM Principal Matt Hills chose to resolve the issue by having students buy a pass for a specific spot and removing the distinction between the junior and senior lots.

Now that the height of the conflict has died down after the unused trailers located near Leesburg pike and Route 7 were removed, Mr. Hills and his team can begin brainstorming long term solutions that will appease both students and staff.

“We are really trying to encourage students to walk and bike, but we also recognize that we have athletes that need a car, so we are trying to come up with a balance,” Hills said.

The administration has also been considering how the parking will work in the future once the new school building is built. Under the guidance of Hills and FCCPS Superintendent Dr. Peter Noonan, the new proposals for the rebuilding of George Mason High School have allotted for just under 100 parking spaces for students.

“We tried to come up with a solution to make sure we had enough staff parking… so when we were talking, we were taking a look at the long term impact. This decision was not just made for this year since we had to take into consideration of the new building plans,” Hills said.

Seniors were the first to have their parking difficulties addressed. Hills and his team began selling parking spaces this summer after sending out a letter on August 21.

“I am a firm believer that seniors should get precedence over juniors,” Hills said.

The juniors now have a turn to buy their passes. Hills believes it was not fair to use a first come, first serve rule for the juniors. Instead, the remaining parking spaces will be distributed through a lottery system, which will close on September 15, in which about half of the junior applicants will receive a spot. However, this poses a problem for the remaining juniors who take classes before school and need to arrive early.

“It’s unfair to people who’ve been using the lot for multiple months to have their parking privileges taken away, especially when they help others carpool to school,” junior Jack Felgar said. “Personally I drive my younger brother, who attends MEH, my friend who is a junior, and her little sister who’s a freshman. I have no clue what I’d do if my ability to park at Mason was taken away.”

Noonan and Hills have been working with Mason’s neighboring building, The Northern Virginia Center, as an alternative option in which the parents and students of the class of 2019 agree to match the price of the parking spaces to the price they are sold at GMHS, $250.

Overall, Hills and his team are confident the plan will work out for everyone and they have taken into account that students, as well as teachers, need a parking space.

“I am confident that every student driver who has a particular circumstance that forces them to drive will have a spot… I think overall, this is a change, but looking at equity and fairness, we have definitely achieved that,” Hills said.