At Cleveland high school visitor parking signs take on a whole new meaning. Every day, student drivers are made to feel like visitors on their own campus as they are forced to scope out the school’s parking lot and side streets for a good spot. The amount of student parking spaces has dropped over the last three years after teachers were given priority for the school parking lots. With more students behind the wheel, finding a good place to park has become a major challenge. Senior Kaylah Camerino struggles to finding a parking spot in the morning.
“It’s pretty difficult, especially since you have to beat everyone to get one,” Camerino said.
Since there is such a limited amount of parking available in the main lot, most students are forced to park on 15th Avenue South – a tight and busy residential street – putting their car at risk of getting hit.
“Trying to get into my car while there’s traffic can be difficult,” said junior Tyree Abella. “I could just accidently open my door and someone not paying attention can hit my door off … it’s just a safety hazard.”
Finding a parking space is such an issue, students are forced to arrive on campus early to find a good spot. Traffic is also a contributor to the parking problem. In the mornings, students are circling the lots and side streets; after school student drivers are rushing out of the to get home.
“I have to come from Kent when I’m at my mom’s, so I have to wake up a little bit earlier so that I can be able to have a parking spot,” said junior Myles Howard. “Traffic is terrible because everyone is either going into the school or … leaving at one time which causes a lot of traffic.”
Teachers are given priority to a majority of the lot, while student drivers only have access to spots 1-10. Students are taking issue with one teacher who monopolizes one of the designated student parking spaces. A few students find it unfair that a teacher can park in student spaces, while students aren’t allowed in the teacher parking area.
“If teachers don’t like parking in the teacher parking lot, because it’s more compact maybe they should just park in the street instead of us having to be forced to park in the street,” said senior Celecia Perkins.
Initially, teachers signed up for a parking space in the school lots and were given a sticker to place on their car window. Having assigned spots allowed staff members to become familiar with who parked next to them in case there was an accident in the lot. If someone parked in their spot, teachers were told to call the main office and they would make an announcement for the driver to move their car.
The following year, spots were no longer assigned and teachers took spots on a first come, first served basis. Staffers were given a placard to hang on their rearview mirror and those without the placard would be ticketed. Teachers voted to keep this parking policy over the summer.
While there are many concerns about the parking lot, none of it gets taken up to administration. SoLS Assistant Principal Catherine Brown said she hasn’t heard any complaints directly from students.
“This conversation is the first one I’ve had about it,” Brown said. “I think anything that students brought up to us as a concern we would want to consider and investigate.”
The Journal has created an online questionnaire and wants to hear your thoughts on the lack of student parking availability. Access the form here. The results will be shared on our website and Facebook page.