$250 dollars for a parking space: where does the money go?


The GMHS front parking lot used by students. Many students are complaining about the availability of the parking spaces as well as about the the price of the fees to park for the year. (Photo by Fernanda Molina)

Fernanda Molina, Editor-in-Chief

It’s September, so naturally, students are complaining about parking at GMHS.

“No. That’s too much money. I don’t want to pay for that. I walk,” said senior Izabella Sisson.

Throughout the years, the price for the parking spaces at GM has risen significantly. In 1999, students paid a fee of $100 dollars, which increased to $200 in 2010-2011. This year the parking spaces cost $250.

“Well, I think it’s expensive, but it becomes a bit more reasonable if the price is split with your parents,” said junior driver Kate Rasmussen.

The other part of the problem is that there are not enough parking spots at GM for all of the 400 juniors and seniors at our school. This unbalance between supply and demand leads to students having to pay more for their spots.

Currently, many students are forced to park in the Northern Virginia Graduate Center or the Metro parking lots. In order to park in those locations, students must pay a daily fee of $3.00 for the Metro parking lot and $5.00 for the Northern Virginia Graduate Center. This turns out to be much more than $250 for the year if a student drives to school every day.

We only have a certain amount of parking spots,” said Assistant Principal Mr. Kevin Clark. “We need to ensure teachers and staff have parking spots available, and also guarantee as many students as possible [have] parking here on campus,” said Mr. Clark.

With teachers being the priority for parking spots, a few juniors are left with no parking spaces for the year if they receive their license after September.

The money Mason collects from selling yearly parking spots to students is recorded in the General Ledger as Student Activities revenue. This year, GMHS sold 120 parking spaces, which totaled $30,000 dollars.

“This revenue is used to help offset the much larger expense of Student Activities expenditures,” said FCCPS Director of Budget and Finance, Mrs. Mechelle Coppock. “These expenditures include many different categories including graduation expenses, some field trip expenses, club registration or competition fees and many more.”

The 2018 student activities expenditures were $773,200 and the $30,000 the school acquires from the parking fees is not enough to cover even 5% of this amount. Although $250 is a lot for each student driver, the parking fees don’t even begin to cover total student activities expenditures.

Mason’s parking fees are comparable to all Fairfax County High Schools, which have a parking fee of $200.

For students at GM, parking is a significant concern, but the price is not so much a problem as is the availability to accommodate enough students with a parking space for the year.

This problem will worsen when the new school is built – it will only offer 380 parking spots for the students, which will be enough to accommodate the seniors, but not the juniors. Yet, that is a topic to be addressed for another time.