The space between (or lack thereof): the student parking crisis


Samantha Holguin

The student and staff parking lot rarely has open spots.

As a student driver at Imagine Prep, it’s easy to find yourself dreading the days you come to school in a pinch with just enough time to make it to class without a tardy slip, only to find that there are no parking spots left in the lot. Even at the end of the school day, you’ll still find yourself stressing out over the many children that run carelessly about while cars zip past without a second thought as you try to creep out of the same parking space for a solid 10 minutes straight. It’s frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be like this forever.

With every passing year, the issue of student parking becomes more and more of a problem, especially with the steady rise that we see in student drivers every school year. In fact, we are seeing more student drivers this school year than we ever have in the years prior. The Prep is coming to the point where our parking lot is actually running out of space for our current and future student drivers.

Megan Walker, a senior and student driver here at Imagine Prep, expressed her frustrations with the parking lot’s current situation.

“More often than not, I find myself waking up late for school every day. That alone already stresses me out,” Walker said. “Coming to school to a full parking lot with practically no spots available certainly doesn’t make those stressful mornings any better for me.”

Even at the end of the school day, Walker added that the stress of it all manages to escalate even further for her.

“By the end of the day, our parking lot is really, really full. It’s so hard to get out of the parking lot, especially since so many of our classmates, some of which who are more on the haphazard side when it comes to driving, are just driving right on through like they can’t see me backing out of my spot,” Walker said. “I dread the day my mom’s car actually ends up taking damage from how reckless they are. It doesn’t help that the parking lot is as narrow as it is either. And it only gets worse when you add ‘releasing the little middle schoolers’ to the picture. It’s like they don’t give a care in the world about potentially getting run over!”

Julia Kupis, another senior and student driver at Imagine Prep Surprise, also expressed her discomfort with how cramped the parking lot can get.

“I’m very lucky, so I usually get to leave when the parking lot is a lot less busy and the little kids haven’t been released yet,” Kupis said. “However, on the occasion that I have to stay after school or something, it has almost always been disastrous. It just gets so crowded. It’s like the mall parking lot on a weekend! So much going on. I completely understand how overwhelming that could be for some people, especially for new drivers.”

Macy Joyner, yet another senior and student driver at the Prep, expressed similar views on the state of student parking as well.

“It sucks. When I get here five minutes before school starts, there’s not enough student parking,” Joyner said. “There’s only two spots and it’s always big trucks that hog all of the parking. That makes me really mad because I have a really small car and there still isn’t enough room.”

Mark Edwards, a senior and student driver at the Prep as well, explained his views on the situation and posed a potential solution he believed could be of some help in alleviating the parking lot’s current state.

“I just wish that maybe we could park closer to the school and not all the way in the back because sometimes, during the summer in particular, it gets really hot and I just want to get to my car before I melt on the asphalt,” Edwards said. “Maybe adding a few actual parking lanes would help compensate for all the seniors and juniors that drive here. At least that way, there would actually be a good amount of space, especially with how crowded it gets right before school.”

Mr. Daniel Hattley, the vice principal of Imagine Prep Surprise, reached out about the issue and explained his stance on the situation.

Hattley made it clear that administration is, and always has been, aware of the state of student parking and how it is steadily worsening with the increase of student drivers. In order to fix this, administration has posed two solutions. For the first one, they would lay down roading material in the rocky areas at the back of the school and designate this area specifically for staff parking, which currently takes up around 58 to 59 slots in the parking lot at the front of the school. However, with this solution comes several problems of its own. Since the back area of the school is where students are dropped off, that poses the potential threat of students messing around and damaging staff vehicles. Additionally, student drivers wouldn’t be able to park there either because the school gates would inhibit them from leaving earlier than the last hour of the school day. The second solution, which Hattley believed would be the most effective of the two solutions, would be to take the rocky areas bordering Calibre, a school neighboring the Prep, and laying down roading material here to make slanted parking spots for additional parking, which would be available to both staff and student drivers. However, even though this solution would be the most effective, it still has its downsides as well. Besides being extremely costly for the school, angled car parking could be more dangerous in the sense that people could struggle to back out from them, thus leading to vehicular damage.

The biggest issue that has prevented administration from implementing either of these solutions is funding, which is why we can expect to deal with the current state of student parking for a while. In the meantime, Hattley posed several ways student drivers can help alleviate the issue, which include carpooling with other students at the school, actually parking in the designated parking for students, and making sure to only take up one space in the parking spot. Hattley also plans on designating one parking spot to all mopeds and bikes to help free up additional spots in the parking lot as well.

Administration assured that they are doing all they can to make things easier for both the staff and student drivers here at the Prep and, if student drivers also try to do all they can to alleviate the issue in the meantime, they can help make things easier on everyone’s end as well. At the end of the day, it comes down to working together in order to make the most out of our school’s parking lot. Even if the student parking crisis is an issue that will be on our hands for quite a while, we can all live in comfort of knowing that it won’t be here forever.