Paying to park at high school can be a burden for some parents and their kids. Not all schools charge, but some students say one district seems to be charging too much.
Back to school for most students at Pomperaug High School in Southbury began here on the school bus.
For juniors and seniors who drive, they started their year on a route less traveled, one that costs $250.
“Everyone thinks it's a lot of money to pay for a parking spot,” said senior Matt Wynne.
This is Matt Wynne's second year parking on campus, so he says his parents let him foot the bill this time.
“It seems like a lot of money just for a piece of concrete really,” he said.
Senior Megan Muller agrees and so do her parents, who were the ones that cut the check this year.
“They think it's a little high but they definitely understand the reasons for it,” said Megan Muller.
“I've heard it goes towards plowing the parking lot,” said Wynne.
Where does the money go? NBC Connecticut Responds' requests for an interview were denied.
Regional District 15 superintendent Regina Lemerich Botsford offered the following statement:
"The Region 15 Board of Education has been charging for student parking for over a decade. Effective with the 2013-14 school year, the Board approved parking fees for students in the amount of $250 per year, which equates to $1.38 per day. Region 15 provides bus transportation for all students at an average cost of over $40,000 per bus.
By levying parking fees, the Board took the position that student parking is a privilege, not a right. In the 2015-16 school year, 98% of the available spots were sold. This year, we are close to that same percentage. Revenue from parking fees offsets budget expenditures. Were parking fees reduced or eliminated, additional revenue would have to be generated. That would be in the form of additional taxation to the residents of Middlebury and Southbury.
Parking fees are assessed each year during the Board's budget process, at which time Middlebury and Southbury residents may comment on the rate."
So NBC Connecticut Responds contacted every single regional district in the state, to get insight on their parking fees.
Seven districts don't charge a dime for parking. Seven other districts charge under $100.
Regional District 5 charges $100 per spot. Regional District 9 charges $150.
Regional District 15, Pomperaug, charges the most at $250 a pop.
Lewis Mills High, District 10, charges $60 and their principal was very open about where the money goes.
“It is for the students and I like that it benefits them,” said Lewis Mills High Principal Chris Rau.
He says the $6,000 a year the parking fees generate pays for a cap and gown for every graduating senior. Whatever is left over offsets the cost of yearbooks.
A father of a high school senior himself, we asked Rau if he thought District 15's price was excessive.
“I’m not in a position to judge the other districts but as a parent that number certainly would have drawn my attention,” said Rau.
More than $62,000 is how much District 15 says it generated in revenue last year from parking. They say the money is used to offset their $207,000 security budget.
“Pomperaug is nationally ranked as being one of the best schools in the country so I honestly think it’s high, but it's worth it to be a part of this school and to have a car here; it's really great considering not every student can park here,” said Muller.
When we asked the district if they would consider lowering the cost of parking, this was their response.
"Were parking fees reduced or eliminated, additional revenue would have to be generated. That would be in the form of additional taxation to the residents of Middlebury and Southbury."