In the months leading up to the Valley Stream Central High School District Board of Education’s decision to close the student parking lots at its three high schools, there was much debate on what should be done. In 2010, the lots were officially closed for most of the school day, and now it’s still a talked-about topic.
Board members engaged in a discussion about the current parking policy at the Oct. 2 work session. Several trustees asked their colleagues if the policy was making students safer by closing the lots when they are parking on nearby streets and still driving to lunch each day.
“If your primary goal with this policy was to prevent kids from getting in their car and driving to lunch, it doesn’t work because they’re not parking in the lot,” said Trustee Joseph DiSibio, who first suggested during a September board meeting that the policy be revisited.
Students are prohibited from taking their cars out to lunch if they choose to park on school grounds. However, many students circumvent the policy by parking on nearby side streets, especially at North High School in Franklin Square. The lots are closed district-wide during periods three through seven, although students in grades 10-12 are permitted to leave school grounds for lunch.
Since the policy went into effect, the board has heard complaints from residents who now have students parking in front of their homes, and from students who want to be treated responsibly.
Trustee Jeanne Greco Jacobs said the policy needs more time be accepted by residents and students. “I think at some point, we as a school board are taking a stand,” she said. “We represent the community and we’re telling the community this is what we think will keep our children safe. I think we have to take a stand and I think relinquishing that role is doing the community and our children a disservice.”
According to Trustee Larry Trogel, the three student parking lots were less than half full when he went to each of them during a recent school day. He said the Central High School student lot was the most used, but the lots at South and North high schools were nearly empty. “You could have had a football game in there that’s how empty they were,” he said of the student lots at North and South.
Board President Tony Iadevaio, who voted against the policy in 2009, said he is still not in favor of it. “You have to put a little faith in your own child that they know how to drive that vehicle, and you have to make sure that they know the rules of the road,” he said.
The board will continue to discuss the issue at its next work session in November while also seeking the input for the three high school PTAs.