By Meghan Foley, North Adams Transcript
WILLIAMSTOWN -- Student parking just got a little cheaper at Mount Greylock Regional High School.
In response to a petition signed by 250 students, faculty and parents, the School Com mittee unanimously agreed to reduce the student parking fee from $50 to $25 annually for the time being.
Committee members also agreed the reduction in the fee would be retroactive to the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, and students who paid the fee will each receive a $25 refund from the school.
The petition was presented to the School Committee by Mount Greylock senior Allison Tremblay, of Lanesborough, who questioned what students paying the fee were getting in return regarding maintenance to their section of the parking lot.
"There are a lot of potholes," she said. "The parking lot is so bad that last year, a teacher fell."
In the six years she has been a student at Mount Grey lock, Tremblay said she hasn’t seen any work done to maintain the parking lot. Students don’t think they get that much for the $50 fee, and they would like to see it reduced to a more reasonable amount, she said.
Rose Ellis, superintendent of Williamstown and Lanes borough Public Schools, said the school administration supported having the fee reduced with the knowledge that there would likely be some policy changes coming down the line regarding student fees, she said. Ellis said
"We do try to make repairs and minimal corrections to the parking lot, but it’s expensive," she said.
School Committee member David Langston said his experience with the student parking fee was that it wasn’t specifically for the parking lot, but was general revenue for the school.
"There was never the implication that it would go only for the parking lot," he said.
In addition, student parking was seen as a privilege and not a right since the district was obligated to provide transportation through a bus system, Langston said.
Tremblay said it isn’t a privilege for students who live outside the school district and attend Mount Greylock, as well as students who participate in co-op team sports.
In a letter to the School Committee, Tremblay included a list of six high schools in Berkshire County and what they charged students per year to park their cars. Wahconah High School in Dalton had a student parking fee of $25 per year, and Hoosac Valley High School in Cheshire had a student parking fee of $10 a year. Drury High School and Mc Cann Technical School, both in North Adams, Taconic High School in Pittsfield and Mount Everett High School in Sheffield all had free student parking.
In other business, Ellis updated the School Committee about a visit to the high school made by representatives from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Inc. (NEASC) on Oct. 4. She said school officials were able to update the two representatives who came about where Mount Greylock was in addressing the organization’s concerns pertaining to the school’s accreditation.
Mount Greylock’s accreditation has been on warning status for about seven years.
Ellis said NEASC’s concerns outlined when the school had to renew its accreditation in 2005 focused on library staffing, the poor condition of the school’s science labs and that nothing materialized from the 2006 feasibility study done on the school building.
"They did feel that the labs still needed addressing, and they were disappointed that there had not been any interventions since 2005-06, except the upgrade of two work stations," she said.
Mount Greylock will now wait to hear from NEASC if its warning status is put on probation, she said.
In addition, part of what happens to the school’s warning status will be based on if the Massachusetts School Building Authority decides to invite the district into the state school building program, she said. The next meeting of the state agency’s board of directors is scheduled for November.