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Gateway students who drive to school could be charged parking fee

| Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Gateway School District officials are discussing a potential parking fee for high school students.

If approved by the school board, the policy would take effect this year, and students would pay $25 per semester, oe $50 per year.

There are about 100 student spaces at the high school, officials said.

Gateway senior Jack Washington — a member of the lacrosse and golf teams — said Tuesday the policy would be unfair to students.

“If we're in a budget crisis, it's not the students' fault,” he said.

School director Janice Rawson suggested paid parking at school events such as football games in lieu of charging students.

“It's almost like punishing (students), charging them for the parking,” Rawson said. “With the tax raise, their parents are being hit twice.”

Gateway Assistant Superintendent Theresa Piatek said she knows of one district in northeastern Pennsylvania that charges a parking fee at school events.

The board is scheduled to vote Wednesday to delay the policy for additional discussion.

Revenue generated through paid parking would help offset the cost of numbering, tagging and monitoring parking spaces, which was required as part of a safety audit this year, Superintendent Nina Zetty said.

School sirector Skip Drumheller said students' primary focus should be on school, not work.

Unfortunately not everyone has that luxury, school sirector Dave Magill said.

“They have to work after school; they have to make money for themselves,” he said.

And some students work to help support their families, Gateway parent Tammy Richardson said at the Aug. 19 meeting. School board President Steve O'Donnell said students who drive to school cost the district more money than would be generated through paid parking. He said every seat on the school bus costs the district about $1,400, regardless of whether a student uses it.

“A lot of times residents will come to us and ask us, ‘Why does the bus keep going past my house half filled?'” O'Donnell said. “Well, sometimes it's because the students have chosen not to ride it.”

Zetty said the proposed fee of $50 per year is comparable to fees at other school districts. Penn-Trafford students are charged $75 per year, while students at Shaler Area pay $45 per year.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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