Where does Students Money Really Go?

Students throughout the Williamsburg James City County School Division spend one hundred dollars a year on parking passes, thirty dollars for any technology classes, and sixty dollars for each sport they play. The only question is…where does this money go?

Most students understand that the “pay to play” fee for sports is used for such things as referees, buses to States, and maintenance of the fields and courts. However, this money does not go to the school. It is sent straight to the WJCC central office.

Christina Berta, the CFO for WJCC, explained, “The funds collected from student athletes assists the division with offsetting all expenses paid for athletes.”

WJCC currently has a $1.1 million budget for athletics each year, and to date they have spent around $852,000. Lafayette currently wants an auxiliary gym since they are the only high school without one. With the demolition of James Blaire, Lafayette sports will not have a place to play anymore. There is  friction between sports like tennis and football because although football may get new uniforms every year, tennis has to wait four years for their new uniforms.

Griffin Hurt who is a senior captain on the boy’s tennis team said, “I think the only money spent on the tennis team is used for buses to away matches. We have not had new uniforms since my freshman year.”

Teams like tennis get new uniforms every four years, meaning the jerseys they have now are stained with sweat marks and very old. Students would like to see a more proportionate spending on each sports team.

One of the greatest mysteries to students is: where does the money spent on parking passes go? Students each semester spend fifty dollars just to park on school grounds.

Lafayette senior Elizabeth Bellaire has bought four parking passes during her time at Lafayette. She said, “I think the parking passes are way too expensive and when I asked the assistant principal where the money is going, I was not given an answer.”

We met with Assistant Principal Howard Townsend and he explained, “I know some of it goes to maintenance but I am not sure where it all goes.”

Many teachers and students however are in the same boat as Mr. Townsend is.

When Jamestown senior Hunter Freeman was asked where he thought the money went, he said, “I think the money goes to the county infrastructure department.”

This year at the three high schools combined, about 1,290 parking passes were purchased meaning $64,500 has been collected from parking passes in one year.

Berta provided some answers. “50% of these funds remain with the school’s student activity fund account and are spent at the principal’s discretion. The remaining half is sent to the school division’s general operating funds.”

Although what Mrs. Berta said is true most years, a few years ago WJCC had a deficit.

Mrs. Owens, the Treasurer for Lafayette, said during the deficit “we had to send all our funds to General Office.”

This means that those high school students that paid to park at school also paid to fix the deficit that WJCC incurred.

This year alone, WJCC has made around $32,000 from high school parking passes. They have spent $31,381.95 on parking lot repairs for Lafayette, Jamestown, Matthew Whaley, Stonehouse, and DJ Montague.  It should be noted that the three elementary schools do not have to pay for parking passes. This means high school students are paying for parking lots for elementary schools.

Anita Swinton has contacted WJCC trying to get our parking lot resurfaced. “If it isn’t going to be resurfaced,” she said, “then we at least need the potholes fixed and new lines painted.”

WJCC replied to her by saying that LHS is “on the list.”

We have now been on “the list” for two years. Although last summer WJCC did fix the potholes in the parking lot, new ones have appeared and the lines are still disappearing.

The other 50% goes to each school’s general fund, to be used to improve the students’ academic experience. Lafayette High School has made $8,645 from parking passes but they have only spent $1,652. This money has gone to cones, parking permits, and a radio for security. None of this money has been spent on maintenance of the parking lot, chairs for students, or desks.

However, as elementary students do not drive, without the high school parking fees to underwrite their maintenance costs, where would that money come from? It may not be a perfect system, but there are many complex angles to be considered in the allocation of funds in a Division the size of ours.

This shows a full shot of the parking lot on Thursday morning. Taken by: Jake Clark
Where does Students Money Really Go?