Parking fees likely to drop, School Committee says

Nov 16, 2021

Parking fees for Dartmouth High School students will likely be reduced for the fiscal year 23 budget cycle, School Committee members said at their Nov. 15 meeting, which was open to the public for the first time since the pandemic hit.

Although a final decision on the fees was not reached, committee members told Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations James Kiely their sense is that they will vote to cut the fees. 

Having this information will help him when planning the budget, Kiely said.

The fee is $60 per student, which is waived for students on free or reduced lunch. The fees bring in about $15,000 in annual revenue.

Committee member John Nunes opposed cutting the fees, saying that driving to school is a “privilege’’ and that the district pays millions of dollars for buses to provide a means of transportation to school. 

Committee chair Dr. Shannon Jenkins said that some students drive to school “not just for fun’’ but for the convenience of reaching an after-school job on time. 

“For many kids, this is fundamental,’’ she said.

Vice Chair Mary Waite said she was “struggling’’ with this decision. Students pay fees to participate in after-school activities, she said, and the district could use the revenue. But she questioned whether the district “should be asking students to absorb the cost.’’

Parking fees are unfair, said Christian Gwozdz-Silveira, the 2020-2021 Dartmouth High senior class president, who spoke during the public comment period. 

Much of the revenue from the fees is used to plow the high school lot, he said. But he noted that other town parking lots are plowed without charging fees to the drivers that use them.

“It’s not fair,’’ he said. 

Jenkins, Waite and Oliver agreed to reduce the fees. Nunes said they should be maintained.