by Aliyah Armstrong | staff writer
As the year winds down, so do the number of parking spots that are available in the student parking lot. This significant decrease in an already limited amount of parking spaces can be attributed to the increased amount of sophomores who are illegally parking on campus.
“We have 579 parking spots in the back, we have 54 in the front for PALS, and each class that we have, the seniors, the juniors, freshman, and sophomore are all at least 700. We have 3,000 kids on campus and if you divide that by four you’re roughly gonna get 750 or something like that,” assistant principal Stuart Guthrie said. “With that number of juniors and seniors on campus, 1500, there’s no way we’ll have enough parking spots on campus for all of them plus sophomores on top of that.”
During the summer, juniors and seniors can apply for a parking permit. Seniors are automatically given one and the juniors are then dealt with accordingly, with the majority of them being entered into a lottery. Sophomores are not permitted to apply.
“We always try to accommodate all of our seniors in the fall – we give them their parking permits first and then the juniors after that,” Guthrie said. “I don’t do parking any more as part of my duties here but in the four years I’ve been here, we normally are sold out or pretty close to being sold out by Halloween, Thanksgiving, October, [and/or] November. And once we start getting to juniors we may only issue the first half of the juniors and the rest of them are on a waiting list.”
When sophomores park on campus, it can cause a lot of problems for juniors and seniors.
“I think it’s really hard for upperclassmen that are running late or have late arrival, if they’re seniors, to find a parking spot and can make them even later to their classes. And they’re the people that have waited, you know, two or three years to get a parking pass and be able to park every day and they should be able to,” junior Meredith Floyd said.
Not only do upperclassman have trouble finding parking spots in the morning, but they also have trouble leaving the parking lot at the end of the day.
“It causes more traffic in the afternoon as people are trying to get out, and with the buses leaving people sometimes don’t get out of the parking lot until 4:25, which is kind of ridiculous because school ends at 4:05,” Floyd said.
That being said, this problem is not going unnoticed, as administration has policies in place in order to remedy the situation.
“Two things – one is we issue tickets; they’re $25 a piece. If you are a sophomore you can’t close out your year until you’ve paid all your tickets, and if you are a sophomore [who is currently] driving you go to the back of the line to get your parking permits in the fall,” Guthrie said.
Administrators are not the only authority figures working to catch underclassmen parking on campus. The campus police also play an important role.
“Well we have parking permits, obviously, that hang from the rearview mirrors but our police officers are out there and they start to recognize the cars. There’s only 579 cars that can park and so if they recognize, ‘Hey that car hasn’t been here until just recently,’ they’ll go and they’ll take a look at the tag,” Guthrie said.
Even if a sophomore happens to have a tag, that will not necessarily stop them from getting caught, as sophomores are not permitted to park on campus regardless.
“Sometimes kids will want to make a copy of their friend’s tag that’s a junior or a senior. If you do that, then you’re also going to be subject to discipline [measures] on campus,” Guthrie said. “You may be in ISS, Saturday detention or something like that and you go to the back of the line when you’re a junior the next year,” Guthrie said.
Even though there are consequences that come with getting caught, sophomores still continue to park on campus for whatever reason, especially if they have recently gotten their license.
“Because kids usually turn 16 when they’re sophomores, they go through driver’s ed, they get their driver’s license, maybe they get a car of some kind and they just can’t wait to drive. They want to drive everywhere and I get it but they just can’t park at Johnson High School,” Guthrie said.