Parking fees support Madison and FCPS

Every year students willingly pay $200 for a parking pass. The question of whether this amount is fair has always been prevalent minds of Madison drivers.

Ethan Godwin, Editor-In-Chief

For over six years, Fairfax County Public Schools have operated with a system-wide policy of charging $200 for a parking pass at all high schools. While Loudoun County also charges the same price, most other schools in the Washington D.C. metro area charge less than $100. The county should provide students with more detail as to where their money is going because there is not an alternative to the school passes

“I think the passes [cost] too much money because many students are expected to pay for their own, and not everybody has the job or means of getting that $200,” Emily Calhoun (’17) said.

Due to the school’s relative monopoly on parking spaces, it is able to set the price however it chooses, which could prove difficult for students as a future price decrease is highly unlikely.

“We haven’t had a price change in five years. [The price] was going to go up to $250 [this year], but the school board turned it down,” Security Assistant James Tracy said.

Considering each student’s substantial financial commitment to a parking pass, the county does not specify what the parking pass revenue pays for each year.

“85% of the parking revenue goes to Fairfax County Public Schools in their general operating budget, and 15% if it stays here at Madison,” Tracy said. “For the 15% that stays here at Madison, Mr. Hood can use it for whatever student activities he wants to. In the past, Mr. Hood, and Mr. Merrell before him, have used it for awards breakfasts.”

Madison’s use of its portion of the parking pass revenue then justifies the high price. The money generated from the passes provides perks for the students to enjoy, but more transparency on the county level would be appreciated, as the majority of the revenue enters the “general budget.”

The security office stresses that students need to understand the parking policies and abide by their rules. They are strict with parking enforcement because they want to ensure each student who purchased a pass gets a spot every day.

“If people park on school grounds without a permit, the first offense is a $25 ticket. The second offense is a $50 ticket, and we boot their vehicle, and the third offense would be a $100 ticket, and we tow their vehicle,” Tracy said.

Although the price of a parking pass is less than ideal, the individual schools can do nothing about it. The School Board sets the price, and the county receives most of the revenue. However, Madison makes an effort to spend their portion of the revenue in a way that will directly benefit the student body.