About 25 students filled several rows at the Montville School Board meeting last week to bring up the issue of lack of parking spots at Montville High School, especially for seniors. There were suggestions of using the practice field, teachers using the library and more.
Student Jewel Khubani broke down the parking situation by the numbers.
“We have 350 students in our senior class and with the approximate 160 spots with the teachers added and the substitutes as well, that’s still about 190 students without spots. Include the 44 supposed spots on Horseneck, that’s still 146 without spots. And let’s say half of (the seniors) don’t have their licenses or a car, that’s still 90 people without spots,” Khubani said. “Parking in the senior lot is a senior privilege.”
Student Caity Przetak came up to suggest some solutions for the parking problem to the school board.
“The original idea of first come, first park has never let us down. There was a concern about the first come, first park system that we were racing into the parking lot, but there hasn’t been an accident from that,” said Prezetak, adding that of the extra seniors that needed parking space, they’d end up parking at the rec, which is where juniors currently park. However, Prezetak added that this often causes overflow parking into the playground area.
“We are kids and there are some rambunctious people. They might scratch other kids cars or it might create more of a hectic case. It’s very chaotic already … and it’s not really a safe idea to have us all park up there (by the playground).”
Board President Karen Cortellino said that the first course of action the seniors would need to take would be to contact High School Principal Doug Sanford and then Sanford would bring the issue to Superintendent Paul Fried if needed and the school board would be the last in the line of communication.
Przetak added that although students haven’t contacted the principal yet, some have contacted the assistant principal and are waiting for a response.
“We know that some parents have called the Board of Ed, the superintendent and reached out to the entire line (of administration) and they have yet gotten a solution and that’s why we’re here to help try and find a solution,” said Przetak. “Our concern is that we’re not getting the attention and action on this.”
Fried responded that “not one parent has called me about the parking situation.”
He added that he had recent discussions about the parking process the high school was using and “initially the process was not going to be done through a lottery but … who turned in their form first but we felt that was going to create people waiting in line overnight and … other issues … so we changed it to a lottery system.”
Fried said the number of spaces for seniors was originally miscalculated and the actual number is in the 190s. “I think that that’s a much higher number than what was initially relayed to all of you.”
Fried added that Principal Sanford moved to the lottery system over the first come, first park because Sanford “thought that for safety reasons it was important … He believes that the first come, first park system led kids to try to get to the high school earlier and earlier and almost race kids to the lot to get spots that were still open. He said that although there haven’t been any accidents yet, he feels that there is a potential for problems. The administration felt more comfortable assigning the number of spots that are available (through a lottery). He also said that there could be an issue of lateness because if you’re showing up to park and now there’re no spots, you have to go somewhere else … If you know you don’t have a spot in the high school lot, you can go park somewhere else and leave yourself five extra minutes.”
Przetak said, “the kids who don’t have a spot, have to park over at the community center and that is an extra walk and it’s a lot longer and on top of that there won’t be parking there and they have to park in the upper lot and cause them to be even (more late).”“If there was a way to create more spots and if it was something the district could afford to do, we would certainly do it. I don’t know if there’s a solution. We would have to look into the property that we own,” said Fried. “From my perspective I need to have confidence in the high school administration in terms of what they say in safety issue and they believe that the first come, first serve invites a dangerous situation. I have to respect that. I’m pleased they were able to locate additional spots … but I don’t’ think I would second guess their rationale for why they would make this case.”