Students question parking costs

Fee, fines called into question

Naomi Thomas


Jenna Hope

Sue Lamontagne, head safety advocate, tends to paperwork in her office. She said parking fees and revenue from tickets goes toward helping to defray safety costs.

Jenna Hope, Staff Writer

It is no surprise that the fury over having to pay to park in a public lot has many students embittered. The controversy is annually expected.

This year, however, students who drive and park at school are raging on social media, have started an electronic petition to change policy, and in general are grousing about the ticketing of un-permitted vehicles.

Cristina Britton, a junior, tweeted in response to a question posted on @hattersherald: “Paying $65 plus $10 fines, which go into an unknown account, is not fair.” The tweet was retweeted and received many likes.

Even alumni got into the act, with Dan Emmans replying that he has “yet to meet a single person at college who had to pay to park at their high school.”

What makes this year different than past years is the safety advocates have stepped up efforts to ticket un-permitted vehicles. The district issued the school a “campus security” SUV, which the advocates use to patrol the student lots and ticket vehicles without parking permits.

Head safety advocate Sue Lamontagne said junior drivers are charged $65 for an annual permit and seniors are charged $60. Students have two issues about the policy — the permit fee, and the ticketing of those who don’t pay up for the permit.

“Money going to the school is always great and much needed, but $60 is a ridiculous and unfair amount to pay to park at a public school,” senior Alyeska Tilly said.

As of mid November, Lamontagne said 90 parking permits had been issued, mostly to seniors.

Lamontagne said the pricing for the permits is reasonable compared to other high schools in the area.

Brookfield’s prices are $125 per year, while Immaculate High’s passes cost $25. Although these prices differ from one another drastically, both of these schools’ students are promised a parking space each day they get to school.

Danbury High School’s two student parking lots — the band lot in the front of the building, and the lot in the back of the building — do not have enough spots for both seniors and juniors with cars and licenses.

Lamontagne said the profits of the parking passes from juniors and seniors go entirely back to the school’s needs. Being the lowest financially supported school in the Fairfield County, Danbury High School can barely put money toward security.

“The proceeds go to entirely toward our security system as safety advocates. The blinds on the doors, the radio systems we use to communicate; we use the money to pay for all of the things we aren’t supplied by the school.”

Currently, 354 tickets have been issued between the two days the safety advocates patrolled the lots. Lamontagne says about 70 have paid their initial fine of $10, which has gained the safety advocates a minimum of $700 to put to use.

“We really aren’t trying to inconvenience our students, we just want to keep everybody safe,”  Lamontagne said.

She says that by assigning every driving student with a parking pass, it is easier to stop random people from being able to get inside the building. With students, for the most part, not wearing student ID’s it has become almost impossible to know which people entering the building are actually students.

“With more awareness of who is parking in the lot, we are able to help students out tremendously. If somebody’s car gets hit, we can quickly notify them of the damage and help them get the assistance necessary,” Lamontagne said. “We just want what’s best for our students, that’s all.”