HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - It's a textbook example of how the tough economy is affecting local schools. Students in Henrico County will now be paying more, simply to park.
The high school student parking fees, which used to be $10, are now going up to $50. Students are wondering if they're finally better off taking the bus.
When Isabella Althoff was in high school, one of the most necessary things for her was easy to name.
"After dance I would have to go to my studio, and I also worked so I went straight from school, I would go to work, so if I didn't have my car, I wouldn't be able to do my after school activities," Isabella said.
Back in 2009, the little stickers that students need to park their cars at school cost just $10 but now, they're going up to $50. Isabella's younger brother, Alex, is among the first to get the new bill.
"I guess we're just gonna have to split it with our parents or just mow a couple lawns, get some money," said Alex, a Junior at Deep Run High School.
In a very difficult budget year, Henrico County Public Schools decided to raise student parking fees in lieu of making cuts to teachers or programs.
"This was just one area, and it was the only fee that we raised," said Eric Jones, Executive Director of Secondary Education.
The $50 figure is more than the $25 students pay in Chesterfield, but less than the $75 they pay in Hanover. Plus, there's still the option of using a bus.
"That's available to any student who doesn't feel like they can afford to pay the $50 or chooses not to pay the $50," Jones said.
Isabella, now at VCU, fears the bus system may soon be a bit more crowded.
"Kids aren't gonna be able to drive their cars anymore because they're not gonna have that kind of money," she said.
Even if it means a few extra hours at his job, Alex says he'll find a way to pay - and therefore keep taking his car to school.
"You can just take charge of your own life, and life just goes a lot quicker that way," he said.
HCPS expects to generate approximately $125,000 with the increased fee. Students at Richmond Public Schools do not pay a parking fee.