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Cost of MHS parking permits could go up

By Bryan Richardson

The cost of parking permits could be on the rise for Manhattan High students based on comments during Wednesday’s USD 383 school board meeting.

Board members did not make a decision on whether to increase fees for parking permits during a broader discussion on student fees for next year. But board member Pete Paukstelis said he thought the parking permit for Manhattan High students was “way too cheap.”

“How often is it that a governmental entity incentivizes people to waste the services that it’s providing,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense for us to provide a spectacular transportation system, and then make it really easy economically for students to drive.”

The administration recommended keeping the parking permit at $50 for the 2013-14 school year, but Paukstelis advocated doubling the price to $100.

He received support from board members Darell Edie and Walt Pesaresi. Edie said it didn’t necessarily need to be $100, but the parking permit is at least $25 too cheap.

Pesaresi moved to increase the permit to $100, contending that $10 per month was more than reasonable. “There’s other ways to get to school,” he said. “God gave them two feet. They can do that or they can ride the bus. Driving is a luxury.”

Board member Beth Tatarko, board vice-president Curt Herrman and board president Dave Colburn advocated not raising the price drastically without putting more thought into it.

“I’m not opposed to looking at fees on whether or not what we’re charging is reasonable compared to other 6A high schools,” Tatarko said. “Just to pull a number out of the air, I’m totally opposed to it.”

Herrman said bringing the cost up to $100 is like a “got you over the barrel fee.” Tatarko mentioned the after-school activities that make it necessary for students to drive to school.

“Even if we made it $200, we’d get this,” Herrman said. “I don’t think it’s fair.”

The parking permit cost was removed from the rest of the motion, and the board approved the first reading of 2013-14 student fees. The board will discuss the issue again at its May 1 meeting.

The board also received a presentation on the Fieldhouse Project, a proposed regional athletic complex .

Edie and Pesaresi expressed doubts about the district’s ability to be partners, should that be requested.

Edie mentioned an additional elementary school that will likely be needed. Pesaresi said addressing the gyms at the middle schools and getting elementary teachers more planning and collaboration time are bigger priorities.

The board approved a new company to do the site work for the Bishop Stadium turf project. Bayer Construction Company of Manhattan is replacing Double E Construction of Gas, which failed to fulfill the terms of the bid “by not providing verification of bonding within a reasonable time frame.”

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