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Parking still on the front burner at Park View Education Centre

Lottery held for 34 student spots this year
by Stacey Colwell

This part of King Street in front of Park View Education Centre may have up to 60 vehicles parked on the side of the road on any given day since the school began limiting on-site parking last month. Pictured are Shane Crouse and Shauna Slauenwhite, in a photo taken last year.
 COUNTY - The luck of the draw determined which students have the right to park at the region's largest school this fall.

 Park View Education Centre held a lottery for 34 spots, which were assigned to Grade 12 students.

 Vice-principal Daphne Egilsson said the result has been a more open, organized and safe parking lot and exit area.

 "The kids who have the spots know they have to drive responsibly or they'll lose their spots, and now you're exiting 34 vehicles compared to three times that."

 However, the result has been up to 60 vehicles parked on King Street in front of the school on any given day.

 "Students have been pretty upset by this because there are so many cars down there. They feel it's a major safety issue for them because it's really hard for them to get in and out of their cars while other cars are driving by quickly and there have been accidents. They just don't feel safe parking down there," said student council president Meg Sawler.

 Last year, a student was hit by a car while crossing the road, and in September, there was at least one multi-vehicle traffic accident along that stretch of road.

 In June, Park View made a pitch to the South Shore Regional School Board (SSRSB) to lobby for a $50,000 parking lot on the side of the front lawn near the current exit driveway.

 This month, the school is planning to invite the board to a meeting to discuss the issue, along with students, staff and local politicians.

 "We can't lose sight of the long-term solution in a short-term Band-Aid," said Ms Egilsson.

 "We'd like to have the kids safe, that's why we had to change things here. We didn't have adequate accessfor emergency vehicles. It was an unsafesituation. Unfortunately, that unsafesituation has moved."

 Still, she said the school does not condone students parking on King Street.

 "There are 34 spots we can provide, and after that, the school board provides transportation, and we want them to use the school board's transportation. We never have and never will tell the kids to park on King Street because it then becomes a Town of Bridgewater and town police issue."

 Cst. Christine Bonnell, school resource officer for the Bridgewater Police Service, could not be reached for comment.

 Meanwhile, the SSRSB superintendent said the board and its staff are aware of the parking challenges faced at Park View.

 "However … there are no funds available from the region to support the development of additional parking at this point," said Nancy Pynch-Worthylake.

 "The board is supportive of the efforts the school staff is making to increase safety. While we understand the desire and need of some students to drive to school, we are committed to providing transportation to all students from the catchment area."

 The student council president said that's not good enough, because the need for additional parking at Park View is not a matter of convenience or getting to work after school. She used as an example after-school band and drama classes, and an early-morning IB math class, which ends before many of the buses arrive.

 "You're not forced to take IB math, you're not forced to take band, you're not forced to take drama, but if you're like myself, I'm taking an IB diploma, so I do need to take the math class," said Meg.

 Ms Egilsson pointed out that none of those classes, including the math session, are mandatory.

 "But there's a historical expectation that students will be there … you're not penalized if you're not there, but it's definitely in your best interest to be there."

posted on 10/07/08
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