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Examining the cost of parking tags

Nick Irwin and Sabrina Romero

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For years now, the cost for parking tags has remained at $20. “We made the comparison to some of the other schools that are significantly higher than ours,” Jerry Stratton, the associate principal said. “We’ve had the $20 price for nearly 10 years, just to offset the cost of the tags.”

However, the individual tags only cost $2 to print. The excess goes into the general fund. With 1,037 tags currently being utilized, and 25 additional tags that have yet to be issued, the school will obtain $21,240 from students.

Questions arise when one examines the policies of the surrounding school districts’ parking tag system as well as the payment required to obtain a parking tag. Urbandale High School just requires the vehicle to be registered with the school. If the car belongs to a senior, the senior is given a designated parking spot. Urbandale does not charge for a parking tag, nor do they issue fines for cars that are parked in the wrong place. “Basically, students are asked to move their car if they are in a spot that they shouldn’t be,” Urbandale High School principal secretary Chris Bergman said.

Saydel High School does not use a parking tag system either. “The majority of our students who do drive are juniors and seniors, who come and go throughout the day to various college classes and are required to park in our west parking lot,” Saydel High School associate principal Alex Stubbers said.  “Because we do not have parking tags we do not have fines or tickets for students to pay.”

Dallas Center-Grimes utilizes a parking tag system, though they only charge $5 to obtain a tag. After the students register their car and plates with the school, they are issued a specific spot for parking on campus. Staff and seniors park in the front of the lot, while juniors and sophomores park in the back. Dallas Center-Grimes does not issue parking tickets, rather they just inform them if they are parking incorrectly or illegally. Repeat offenders have their tags temporarily revoked. “We may have to [issue tickets] in the future but our kids have been pretty darn good so far,” Dallas Center-Grimes High School principal Scott Blum said.

Another school that utilizes parking tags is Ankeny Centennial High School. Ankeny Centennial charges $10 for a tag, and fines range from $10 – $25 based on frequency and the type of violation. This model more closely resembles the model that Johnston currently uses.

Johnston utilizes parking tickets to punish infractions. If a student has unpaid parking tickets, they are not issued a parking tag in the following years.

While many students agree with parking tags, most students are not happy with the fees they have to pay to obtain one. “My brother and I both got one,” Abigail Watkins, ’20 said. “Now we’re paying $40 out of pocket, just so both of us can get to and from school.”

It is also worth noting that none of the aforementioned districts use parking tickets or issue fines, except for Ankeny, who charge a maximum of $25.

Watkins is also frustrated with the parking violation system. “We paid $20 for our parking tags, why are we fined for parking in certain spots that the school forbids?”

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