Friday, October 23, 2009

$3,500 for a student parking space

As Walter Johnson High School prepares to rip up their brand new grass football field and replace it with an artificial turf field, other county high schools may look for ways to improve their football fields.

Here is one suggestion; in 2006, the Potomac Almanac reported on how Churchill High School in Potomac raises funds to maintain their football field.
Just like last year, the auction item that garnered the most buzz was a guaranteed parking space in Churchill’s student lot. “This is priceless,” emcee Topper Shutt said as the bidding began, and he wasn’t too far off the mark. After bidding ended for one space, Churchill Principal Joan Benz announced that three more were available — the four spaces ultimately sold for $3,500 apiece.

LaFleur said it’s a good return for the school for investing a small percentage of student parking spaces. “That pays for a lot of field maintenance,” he said.
Question: is it legal for a principal to auction off county or state property?


  1. Oh, for god's sake - you guys have such an anti-MCPS ritual going on that you (1) can't resist the WJ turf jab (it's absurd, I agree, but you had me 1000 posts ago already), and (2) think that the noteworthy angle here is whether it's legal to "auction off county property." That's an absurd notion on its face (presumably, they auctioned off the right to park in a particular spot for a year, which seems entirely reasonable).

    BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY - isn't the real noteworthy part that it's jawdroppingly disgusting that schools on the other side of 270 are able to raise this kind of money in this way? Has the ick factor all over it.

  2. Actually, if you followed Board of Education meetings you would know that Churchill HS parents contribute the most to the maintenance of their grass football field of any high school community in the county. One of the ways they raise funds is through an annual fundraiser held off site (alcohol/food event). If you read the article, you will learn more about this fundraising event.

    And because the Churchill field is so great, it makes other schools want to keep up. So they argue to the Board for artificial turf. The private donations to the Churchill HS field are part of what is pushing the artificial turf installations in the county.

    On the issue of auctioning off county property, can you cite a legal authority for your "reasonable" conclusion? If high schools can sell off their parking spaces (for example) for any amount of money, then why does the Board of Education bother to set a fee that can be charged? If the Board of Education has no control over the student parking space fees, then why isn't each high school given carte blanche to charge whatever the local market will bear? Can the local principal auction off lockers to the highest bidders? What about gym time? Can that be auctioned off to the highest bidder? If all principals were auctioning off these items to the highest bidder then couldn't all high schools have great football fields?

  3. The MCPS Board of Education policy that says that the Board of Education sets the parking fee and determines how the revenue is used.

    Note that the fundraising event noted in the Almanac news article is an event run by an outside non-profit parent group. The funds collected for these parking spaces do not go back to the local school's IAF accounts and do not go back to the Board of Education for distribution for interscholastic sports.

    The proceeds of the auction go to an outside non-profit group that is not under the control of the Board of Education, contrary to what is stated in the Board policy about these fees.


If your comment does not appear in 24 hours, please send your comment directly to our e-mail address:
parentscoalitionmc AT