This year the student parking lot is experiencing several major changes. As a part of Measure A, the district’s recently passed general obligation bond, the school will be installing solar panel canopies over the parking lot.
According to Superintendent Dr. Barry Groves, construction is scheduled to last from the beginning of November until April of next year. For the duration of the construction, the city is allowing the school to create 42 additional angled spaces for students to park on Jardin Drive to prevent students from parking illegally.
Finishing the construction by the end of next school year will earn the district a $1.7 million rebate from the state.
“The school will save money,” Green team adviser Greg Stoehr said. “We pay $40,000 a year in electricity bills and the solar panels will cut that in half.”
The district is purchasing the solar panels directly with the money granted from Measure A. This means that sole ownership of the panels and the energy created belongs to the district and all of the money will feed directly back into the school.
“[It’s] the right thing to do, our goal is to become a more sustainable district, a model for the community and reduce the amount of carbon being released,” Groves said. Measure A states that the environmental benefits of the solar panel canopies are the equivalent of removing 217 cars from the road.
Because of the proposed orientation of the solar canopies, the orientation of the parking spaces has changed as well. The parking slots are now vertical and there are 32 additional spaces. Some students feel this new orientation causes some visibility difficulties.
“I almost crashed the other day because you can’t see people driving down the aisles because [the parking spaces are] vertical,” senior Paul Fomenko said.
However, the school had to issue 40 fewer parking permits than last year and juniors were only able to purchase temporary permits, which will be invalid during the construction period from November 2010 through April 2011.
Several affected students feel negatively about the temporary parking system and the changes being made this year. Junior Margo Sargent suggested that priorities other than seniority be considered when distributing the parking permits.
“It’s annoying because I know that seniors get priority, but some people need it more; I have sports practice after school everyday,” Margo said.
Other students feel that the changes will not affect them in such a drastic manner.
“When we have to park in the back it will be faster for me, so it’s not a big deal,” junior Sophia Steffens said.
For some students, parking in the back of the school is more convenient and prevents them from getting caught up in the rush to get out of the parking lot following at the end of the school day.
According to Stoehr, the school also plans to build a meter in the parking lot to demonstrate the money being saved by the solar panels.
“Students will get a sense of the system and the money being saved,” Stoehr said.
The school hopes that students will see the positive difference that these changes are making in the community, as well as the example that the school is setting for surrounding communities.