As the new addition to the building wrapped up just in time for the school year, many students were excited to arrive on the first day with access to the newly renovated student parking lot. A repaved and expanded lot not only meant more space for parking, but a much needed boost in spirit for seniors who had waited the last two years to receive the benefits of the renovation. Because of this, many were dissatisfied to hear that the new “student” lot, in addition to the Chelton parking lot, would be reserved for teachers, while the smaller East-West Highway parking lot would become the new student lot.
In just the first week of school, many students have already expressed their distaste for the new parking arrangement, with the main frustration among students seeming to be a perceived decrease in allocated spaces. As there were no parking passes for the first week, students have been arriving very early to secure a spot, with most who arrive any later than twenty minutes before the first bell not being able find a space. SGA President Gabs Capizzi was one of the many students turned away from the student lot on the first day of school. Recalling her experience, she commented: “I just remember being pretty disappointed because I think we were all expecting and hoping for the larger parking lot. It really would have been beneficial for a lot of students this year.” Head of security Mrs. Curry reports that though many students are concerned with a decrease in spots, there are actually still 71 allotted spaces for student parking—an increase from last year.
In an interview with the Tattler, Dr. Jones explained that prior to the beginning of the school year, she sent a survey to teachers asking if they would prefer the newly-renovated parking lot for the 2018-2019 school year. While some of the staff argued that using the new lot would be more convenient for their classes and offices in the new building, others preferred the Chelton and East-West Highway lots, feeling that such a change was unnecessary. Though the survey revealed that teachers were evenly split on the issue, Dr. Jones and the administration ultimately felt there was enough reason to make the change.
The administration’s priority in regards to parking at B-CC is, and always has been, making sure that all staff members can be accommodated. Unbeknownst to most students, last year, “not all staff could park, and a lot of people were frustrated by it,” said Dr. Jones. Specifically, many teachers who worked part-time or had later shifts could not find parking upon arriving to school. The administration anticipated that upon increasing the size of the staff, this problem would only be exacerbated, and so they found it necessary to grant the staff the new parking lot for the upcoming school year.
Safety was another problem that factored into the parking settlement. With this renovation, B-CC has become the only school in MCPS to have a covered lot.This new structure leaves many blind spots and dark corners, and even with cameras being installed soon, the security staff cannot oversee everything. “With this cover over the lot, there are columns and different things that limit visibility,” Dr. Jones commented. “We want to make sure everything is as safe as possible.”
However, one safety concern that has risen as a result of the new parking arrangement is the issue of leaving at the end of the day. Traditionally, the parking lot on East-West Highway has been the main location for parents to drop off and pick up students. But since since the teachers and staff who parked in this lot often did not leave until three o’clock or later, this was not previously an issue. However, with students now parking here, the end of the day rush has been chaotic, with students backing out and parents picking up at the same time. Realizing this, the administration has sent out an email to families reminding them to drop off and pick up at the Chelton lot. However, many parents have yet to adopt this rule.
The administration seems to understand both the student and parent frustration with the new parking arrangement. However, Dr. Jones wants to assure students that there is definitely more student parking than last year, and that in the coming weeks, security will be more strict in sending parents to drop off and pick up at the Chelton lot. Hopefully, this will alleviate the stressful buildup of traffic at the beginning and end of the day, but regardless, Dr. Jones and the security team “will continue to come back to it to make sure everything is running smoothly.”