Guilford County Schools considers raising parking fees for students

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Guilford County students could be paying more money to drive to school. The school board is looking at a plan that would raise the parking rates to six times what students pay now.

The rates have been the same since the 1990s at $5 per space. Now the school board is trying to find ways to get more revenue to pay for increased safety and security measures.

The school parking lots are empty now, but in just a couple of weeks, students will be filling up the parking spaces.

Byron Gladden is a Guilford County school board member. He says the extra money will go towards school security.

“After Parkland, the Guilford County school board voted to send the request to the commission for $4.9 million, and it was listed, the details of the security measures that we wanted to implement right away,” he said.

Gladden said at this point, the county is preparing to give the school board a two-thirds bond. That will not cover the entire security and safety measures the school board wants to implement.

So the school board is trying to get creative and find other ways to pay for the security plans. This is one of the ideas.

“What we’re getting from the county commissioners now will be a great jump start, but we’re looking at a more sustainable fund, and a one-time allotment of money is not sustainable,” Gladden said.

He said this is one way that will continuously add money to school security. Gladden said that part of the money will go back to the high schools and part will go to the district. He explained that they will also look at the needs of each individual school, to make sure they’re not implementing something families cannot afford.

“If you look at some of our larger schools like Dudley and Grimsley and Page, they may have parking for seniors that is like 100 or 150 spaces, maybe two hundred at the max. So it’s not going to be a significant revenue but what we’re saying is we’re going to start slow but we’re going to do it responsibly. Because we understand that a living wage is still a rarity these days and we don’t want to put a burden on families,” he said.

He also said they are not expecting this method to bring in too much extra revenue because a majority of students rely on the buses. Another idea Gladden plans to bring up is offering a way for parents and community members to donate to a security fund. But this plan is a start and a new way to bring in some money to help keep students safe.

“We’re not trying to make things more difficult for students and their families. We are trying to build up an account,” he said.

He said this is a way the district is working to be more proactive in keeping students safe. The school board plans to talk about where exactly all of the money will go at the board meeting.

Guilford County is still well below the cost for student parking in neighboring districts. Winston-Salem students pay $115 a space. That money goes toward parking lot maintenance. Wake County students pay $170.