Students Struggle with Limited Parking Spots

Amy Tran, Editor-in-Chief

Students continually struggle to find parking every day due to the limited 109 spots allocated to them. While the struggle continues, the solutions are not simple as admin finds many empty spots daily, reaffirming their position that 109 is adequate.

The student parking lot in the back of the school by the stadium holds 94 spots, and the space along the fence between Baltimore Road and the steps leading down to the synagogue holds 15 spots for students with partial schedules. Between the front lot and the fence, there are 222 non-student spots allocated for staff, visitors, vendors, maintenance and handicap.

However, the school is willing to sell more than 109 parking permits based on trends seen by security and administration. After the first few weeks of parking, business administrator David Stough works with security team leader Timothy Conley to assess the best approach to accommodate student parking needs. If they consistently see open spots over a period of days, Stough will decide to sell a few more parking permits. If it begins to fill up, he will close the permit-application process.

“I talk to security because every batch of student parkers is different; someone may have mom’s car on Tuesday and someone’s got soccer practice on Friday. We try to work together to get the right number for the semester,” Stough said. “The goal is to have the most student parking access possible in the right places so security can maintain safe, organized and efficient foot and vehicle flow.”

Parking permit applications opened Sept. 5. Seniors, students with a handicap condition, out-of-area transfer students and students with half-day schedules were given priority, allowing them to pick up their pass between Sept. 11-15. The remaining number of permits were given to other students on a first-come, first-served basis Sept. 18-22.

The more time it takes for me to find a spot in the parking lot, the more class time I lose. This negatively impacts my grade.

Despite the meticulous process by admin and security, students are struggling this year to easily park in the morning and make it to class on time.

“The more time it takes for me to find a spot in the parking lot, the more class time I lose. This negatively impacts my grade,” senior Aryana Dadpay said.

Dadpay is cross-enrolled in Gaithersburg HSa�� NJROTC program for first period and is a full IB diploma student. “On most days, by the time I get to Rockville, there’s usually no parking spots in the student parking lot. I have even seen some people park in the middle of the lot and the road because it is so overcrowded,” she said.

As the student body grows every year, the number of staff also increases and forces Stough to reevaluate policies. The school’s finite resources will be more scarce and will result in tougher access to parking permits, he said. He may resort to taking away the 15 spots in the front to give to staff because renovations are not possible.

“We’re pushing on a baseball field this way and against a fence the other,” Stough said. “We have nowhere to go but up, and I don’t think we’re building a parking garage any time soon.”

Assigned parking as a potential solution has been ruled out, as it requires the lot to be repainted and constant maintenance of the numbers. The funds the school receives from selling parking permits is shared with the athletic department. Other schools facing the same problem such as Bethesda Chevy-Chase HS have resorted to selling student permits based on athletic seasons and prioritizing the teams playing in the specific season.

As schools around MCPS struggle to identify a parking solution that pleases everyone, students and staff continue to spend many mornings scrambling.

“It’s difficult sometimes when students outnumber the number of available parking spots,” junior Ryan Kelly said. “It doesn’t help when sometimes teachers park in the student spots.”

Rockville follows a long-term parking permit period based on semester rather than a quarterly or bi-weekly basis to reduce headaches and to keep the price reasonable. Nonetheless, any new changes admin would like to implement this year would not be effective until the following school year.