The Price for Parking

There’s more to the parking pass system than meets the eye

Where is your money going when you pay for a parking pass?

Last year, the Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) collected roughly $117,000 from student parking permits in the five high schools. 

The website the school orders parking passes from,, sells them for around 50 cents each in bulk. In contrast, students pay $60 at the beginning of the year to attain a pass. However, it’s not the actual pass students are paying for — it’s the privilege of parking in the lot. 

“The student fees go into the general fund,” SMSD Chief of Communications David Smith said. “Parking lot repairs come out of our Capital Outlay fund.”

Therefore, there is no true relationship between the money students pay to park and what the district must spend to repair the lots. The funds raised from parking passes are used in multiple ways, depending on what the district needs to spend it on at the time. 

“Student fees would not come close to paying for what it costs to maintain our parking lots,” Smith said. “Last summer, the district put a two-inch asphalt overlay on the parking lot, at a cost of $328,623. If 1,000 students paid the parking pass fee at Northwest, it would still take more than five years to pay off that balance.”

The five SM high schools take turns getting their parking lots repaired, repaved and repainted. Last summer, the curbs in our parking lot were replaced and painted. This summer, our lot was repaved and the lines were painted again.

Since cost may be an issue for some students, the school officers attempt to help any student that may need it. 

“If a student is unable to afford a parking pass, they can come talk to us and we can figure something out,” District Resource Officer (DRO) Jason Frizzell said. “My understanding is that it drops $15 each quarter. A lot of the warnings we gave were to students who had parking passes and they just failed to go get them.”

Along with keeping track of parking passes, the school officers are responsible for maintaining and enforcing policies given to them by higher officials at the Shawnee Mission School District. 

Frizzell is in charge of giving warnings to students parking in violation of policy. If the student still fails to pay for a permit, the officer has to issue a ticket.

Officers and administers have a system for keeping track of each vehicle and handing out tickets if someone isn’t registered with the school. Since students don’t have assigned parking spaces, it is imperative for those in charge to have a simple way of enforcing policies.

Student Resource Officer Mark Coenen tracks who is in the lot by using a database. This also tells him which vehicle each student drives and the parking tag assigned to that person. Coenen can access this database through his computer, where there is a list of the students who have paid for and picked up their permits. 

“ is not required to make a database,” Frizzell said. “We can just thumb through the cards and find the number, but he just does it. It’s more so that we know who’s parking in the parking lot. If there’s ever an issue with a vehicle, we can figure it out.”

Using this database, school officers can easily determine who should be ticketed and who should receive a warning.

“Each vehicle gets a warning, so if a student drives two different vehicles, each is going to get a warning,” Frizzell said. “After that warning, if they park in violation again, we go with a ticket.”

Prosecuting those in violation of parking rules has to be done by those in charge of enforcing parking pass policies. However, the officers try to issue tickets as rarely as possible.

“We are pretty lenient,” Frizzell said. “We were letting the kids get their parking passes and figure things out because we don’t want to write tickets. It has been a while since we have done it. Unfortunately, the rule from the district.”