Sartell students concerned with parking lot halfway through the year

Students of Sartell High School have struggled this winter season and been livid with the inefficiency of parking lot exit times. With the district’s recent construction of the new high school, the modern and efficient design of the building looked promising with enhanced learning opportunities and a new facility. One of the new and promising features of the new facility was much greater spaces for student, teacher, and event parking at school. At the beginning of this school year, it was made clear that the new lot was not satisfying much of the student body.

Dylan Pringle

The group that has been driving to and from school the longest has to be the members of the teaching staff. At the old high school, teachers were given parking spots behind the school building as well as spaces closest to the school in the main lot. 

This year the new high school does not designate specific spots for students or teachers, but the north lot and Auxilary gym lot have been the main areas for faculty to park every day. 

One teacher that had some comments about the new parking lot was English teacher Mr. John Ronyak who typically exits the building around 3:30 after school each day. 

Mr. Ronyak has been a teacher both at the old and new school for many years and stated, “Exit times are great in the new parking lot and much better than they used to be.” Mr. Ronyak also discussed some solutions he thinks could alleviate the problems of the parking lot. Mr. Ronyak discussed the north side parking lot entrance only lane being changed to a switch lane. 

Faculty are an integral part of the population that uses the parking lot, but the teachers and staff hardly ever leave directly after school like most students. The student population at the old high school building had differing options than we have this year in our new lot. 

Students utilized the side of the road on the hill of 7th Street in the past years as a large majority of parking for students who did not want to purchase a parking pass. One of these students who is displeased with the new parking lot is Senior Abby Starz. 

Abby says that she has been leaving after school almost every day of the year and stated, “The new lot is horrible in terms of efficiency.” When asked about how the school could improve Starz commented, “They should take more control over the traffic after school lets out and manage the buses exits.”

In a statement by Mrs. Steve to the Sartell High School Student Council, she explained that the administration timed the exit time of students in the new lot and have seen the lot almost completely empty in 7-10 minutes.

Starz expressed, “In my experience, that has not been true at all, and has taken me twenty to twenty-five minutes to exit the parking lot.”

Another student set to share their opinions about the safety and efficiency of the lot was sophmore Maxx Jokela. Max has just started driving this year, but already had things to say about the parking lot that he does not enjoy.

Maxx, when asked about the general safety and efficiency of the parking lot, said “It is very inefficient, and takes a long time to exit the lot every day.” Also, he talked about student morale and how it has had a sudden shift in this past year.

Jokela stated “Student morale has changed and I see students frequently sneaking backpacks and jackets to their last classes so they can be first to their cars. I think this is because of situations like mine being positioned far from my locker, so I usually wait in the lot for fifteen to twenty minutes every day.”

Sartell students want a change but it is unclear how long and to what extent that change will occur. Officer Lyon, the school police officer for the high school, has been the main proponent in tracking parking lot efficiency and safety at the beginning of the year. Officer Lyon has been a traffic manager and enforcer of traffic on Pinecone and the side streets leading up to the school.

When I caught up with Officer Lyon he stated…

Pullquote Photo

At this point, it has been brought up to the administration to fix issues, and since we are halfway through the school year, no action will probably be taken until this summer. To my knowledge, it has been mentioned, but I do not know where they are in the whole grand scheme of things.”

— Officer Lyon

Officer Lyon also was sure to address the exit time concerns for the student when he commented, “Usually, by around 3:30, the parking lot is pretty much cleared out, except for kids just exiting the building after meeting with teachers. Since all of the kids are parking in the lot this year as opposed to parking on 7th Street, traffic has been heavier due to only having one lane of traffic.”

The school has also been fairly responsive with feedback from this year, and Officer Lyon wanted to address Mr. Ronyak’s proposal. In response to Mr. Ronyak’s idea to turn the northside entrance into a switch Officer Lyon stated, “If you do a switch lane, parents still come to pick up students, and buses continue coming in at the end of the day. I do not foresee that north entrance becoming an exit whatsoever, but instead probably adjusting the parent pickup area.”

Students as a whole with the new facility expected a lot less headache when exiting at the end of the day, but clearly the new lot is posing issues for students. It is good to see that the school and administration have heard students’ concerns and have put some thought and action into the matter and students are sure to appreciate the new initiative. Hopefully, the future will be prosperous when it comes to students’ safety and efficiency in the SHS parking lot.


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