By Mike Smale, Current Staff
At the beginning of second semester, East sophomore Brian Corazzi was finally able to use his new driving privileges and start parking at the high school.
“I enjoy being able to park in the parking lot,” said Corazzi. “It is expensive, though.”
This momentous step in Brian’s high school adventure set his checking account back a hefty $66.50. That’s because the West Bend High Schools have one of the highest parking pass rates in the area.
The annual parking permit for WBHS costs $125, a far cry from Kiel’s $20 year-long pass. Hartford charges $100, while Slinger and Kewaskum both cost $60.
The process of deciding the West Bend parking rates is fairly simple.
School board member Rick Parks explained the reasoning for parking fees. There are three types of fees that the school district charges: general student fees, athletics, and parking.
“Our goal as a district is to have affordable fees for the general student fees and athletic fees,” said Parks. He explained that the student or tuition fees are not a choice; they apply to everybody. The athletic fees, however, “are optional in a sense,” but athletics can be extremely beneficial to the high school student.
“I think it’s important for the schools to make [sports] accessible for as many students as possible,” said Parks. “We want students in athletics.”
Therefore, student and athletic fees can be reduced or waived if finances are a problem. Student parking, however, is considered a luxury; although it is nice, it is unnecessary and one can easily walk or take the bus.
Furthermore, the cost of the parking pass amounts to a small fraction of the total cost of having a car.
“If a student has access to an extra vehicle, and the funds to fuel it and maintenance it, the cost of a parking pass is a minor part of the overall operating cost of the vehicle,” said Parks.
In fact, according to IRS rates, a 5-mile drive to school every day amounts to about $900 in total expenses, so a parking pass in West Bend costs under 14% of the overall vehicle cost.
The income generated from the parking passes goes into the general fund to help balance the school district’s budget. According to Brittany Altendorf, the district Director of Finance, last year $64,279 was generated through parking, and so far this school year $61,232 has been generated.
So while the parking may be pricey, West Bend students are still willing to pay for the parking privilege. And the price isn’t the highest in the area: In Germantown, students have to pay $200 for a parking pass.
“Thank God that we aren’t Germantown,” said Corazzi.
(Photographs by Mike Smale.)