VHHS implements changes to parking


The free lot stands empty on a sunny fall day at VHHS.

Vernon Hills High School has now renamed the sophomore lot as the “remote lot”, an area that allows for free student parking. Students will need to register their car with a pass to park in this space, and students who currently pay to park in the senior and junior lots can be refunded if they would like to park in the new remote lot. 

The creation of this was done after the Village of Vernon Hills started to restrict students from parking in the termed “free lot” due to it being Village property. The “free lot” is the parking lot past the junior lot and near the Vortac, typically used by students who did not want to pay for a parking pass.

One concern school administrators and students had was the lack of a free or low-cost parking lot for students to park in. Matthew Thames (12) at Vernon Hills High School explained how he had parked in the free lot for the past two years as it is only a slightly longer walk for a much lower cost than having to buy a pass. 

“The sophomore lot and the free lot are very close in proximity, so why would I pay $170 for a thirty-second difference? Then the same thing happened my junior year, I thought, it was only one more minute versus $170.”

The cost of parking passes was brought to the attention of the school administration, who agreed the school needed a low-cost solution. This is why Dr. Guilliame, the principal of Vernon Hills High School, started to think about the fairness of the price they charge to park, and thus turned the sophomore lot into a free parking area. 

“As a district, there has been a rate set for what parking is, and that’s what we followed. But, I’ll tell you what it is doing, it’s made me consider is the price that we charge for lots fair?” 

This all started when the Village began to enforce stricter action on students who would park in their lot. Public Works confronted Officer Santos regarding the situation and their motives for taking more control over their property after finding it unkempt.

“So what happened last year is that the director of Public Works talked to me about the issue at the free lot, or what has been termed the free lot, and what basically happened is that the people who were using it spoiled it. There was garbage left behind, and the director of Public Works and the FAA just said, ‘we aren’t here to clean up after these high school kids.’” 

Santos said students came up to him saying they would offer to clean the lot if they could still park there, but because it is Village property, he couldn’t allow it. 

Students who have continued to park in the lot received two notes, one from Officer Santos to inform the students, and one issued by the Village as a warning. Ticketing has not occurred, as the administration and Village are giving students a period of leniency. Village member, David Brown, says they do not want to issue the tickets but feel it is now necessary. 

“To be perfectly clear, that is not what the Village is looking to do, we are just hoping that people park in the approved lots and not in the Vortac lot (the free lot).” 

Although punishment has not yet been enforced, it will be in the near future if cars are found parked in the free lot. 

For the past two years, students have been parking in this lot without punishment. The students believed that the school owned the lot for students to park for free. Yet, due to recent actions taken by the Vernon Hills Village and FAA, students are now aware they are no longer allowed to park there as it is not school property. 

Vernon Hills High school owns the senior lot, junior lot, and sophomore lot. All three lots require a paid pass displayed on a student’s car in order to park there

The free lot is owned by the Village, who never gave students permission to park there for free.

Students first termed the free lot when there were no apparent punishments to park there, and therefore could park at no cost. Dr. Guilliame explained the student history within the lot and how it became “the free lot”. 

“We weren’t going to say anything because it wasn’t our lot, and I think at the time the Village was like, ‘well, they’re not harming anything, we will let them park there for free,’ so that’s when it became the free lot.”

The Village built the parking lot several years ago, who got permission from the FAA, Federal Aviation Administration. The purpose of the parking lot was for hosting events regarding our school ground’s airplane history. The Village never gave permission to the school to use the lot, despite it being located on school grounds. 

Students are no longer allowed to park in the free lot without a note posted on their car, or in the near future, a ticket. Yet, students are allowed to park without charge in the new remote lot.