St. Luke’s School Parking: The Dilemma, Opinions, and Solutions

Ava Sollenne '23, Guest Writer

At St. Luke’s School, parking on campus has been an ongoing controversy that has sparked many debates between students and faculty.

The current standard holds that only faculty members and seniors may park on campus. While the faculty has attempted to satisfy the needs of juniors by providing different options for commuting to school, many juniors remain unhappy regarding the parking policy. Rules have changed several times over the past few decades, and rising juniors hope that they will see a positive change coming soon.

As mentioned above, the only students that are permitted to park on campus are seniors. For juniors who can drive, they may either receive a ride to school from friends and family or park at the Vista Parking Lot off campus.

The Vista Lot, commonly referred to by the students as simply ‘Vista,’ is located approximately one mile away from the school campus. According to data provided by the Transportation Coordinator Ms. Nano Saulnier, twenty juniors are currently parking at Vista. 

Juniors leave their cars here during the school day and may take the newly implemented ‘Vista Bus’ to school. In past years, students were picked up at Vista by seniors; however, this option has now been deemed a liability for the school and is thus discouraged.

While juniors were initially excited about the implementation of a Vista Bus, their attitudes quickly changed when they found out the bus cost $1,400. For juniors who cannot afford this bus and also cannot find a separate ride to school, they are left with practically no option for getting to school on time, or even at all.

Peter Lewis ‘24, a junior who parks at Vista, said, “The Vista Bus is too expensive, but my parents also can’t take me to school. I have to figure out each day a different ride and it’s pretty stressful.”

In addition, juniors criticize the timing of the Vista Bus. It picks students up at 8:45 AM; however, the only ride back is at 6:15 PM. This forces juniors to wait over three hours post-dismissal time in order to return to their cars.

Julia Gabriele, the Associate Head of School at St. Luke’s, provided her input as well as background information on this topic.

Mrs. Gabriele said that this issue has been going on for over 20 years. Back in 2013, the parking policy changed to permit only seniors to park on campus, largely due to the increase in class sizes and number of faculty members.

Over the years, Mrs. Gabriele said that she and her colleagues have diligently run through potential solutions for juniors. “We have placed an emphasis on carpooling, looked at remote parking lots to rent such as Vista, and have looked at increased busing – however, kids just don’t like taking the bus,” she said.

As juniors continue to complain and struggle to find rides, the faculty continues to discuss new options. Mrs. Gabriele addressed several fresh ideas that her staff are currently working on: Building more parking lots on campus, placing the tennis courts on top of an underground parking lot, and renting additional lots off of campus.

Although Mrs. Gabriele and the staff have attempted to go forward with these ideas, they have run into multiple concerns. The St. Luke’s campus is nearing the maximum amount of concrete lots they are authorized by the town of New Canaan, and Neighbor agreements are preventing certain concrete advancements.

Also, according to Mrs. Gabriele, the school prioritizes the “environment and sustainability,” so they therefore encourage students to show a commitment to the environment by looking to carpool before tearing down more trees for parking space.

Mrs. Gabriele and her team will continue to brainstorm, but they encourage students to share their thoughts and suggestions as well.

In a recent survey sent out to the junior class, students were asked if they had any proposals regarding the parking situation at St. Luke’s. Many individuals responded, displaying the interest these students have in positively impacting this aspect of school.

One of the most repeated suggestions from students was that the Vista Bus should run back to the lot at 3:00, instead of just at 6:15. This schedule would be more convenient for many students, and would allow the students who participate in after school activities to retrieve their cars from the Vista Lot and drive them to school before practice begins.

Other suggestions include: Convert Foote Field into a parking lot, auctioning off extra spots to juniors, first come, first served spots, and allowing juniors to park on campus if permitted by a senior friend.

Juniors also suggest a parking website, in which seniors can update juniors on whether or not they will be using their parking spot each day. If a senior’s parking status is “vacant” for a certain day, juniors may enter their information to secure this spot and therefore maximize spot use on campus.

With a combined effort from faculty and students, more ideas will continue to flow and hopefully become true solutions.