Friday, August 08, 2008

Principals Struggling To Pare Parking Perks for Employees

Principals Struggling To Pare Parking Perks for Employees

By ELIZABETH GREEN, Staff Reporter of the Sun | August 7, 2008

Public school principals across the city are returning from summer vacation to learn that they have been enlisted among the ranks of city officials being asked to curb their car use in order to help the environment — and many are not pleased.

In the past, every staff member at a school was eligible for a free parking permit that gave its user free rein to park in a school's lot or on a nearby street. Now, schools are being given just a set number of permits, and every principal is left with the task of divvying them out.

The news is worrying principals, who sent frantic e-mail messages yesterday trying to figure out how they could make such decisions when many teachers and administrators remain on vacation.

Principals were told how many permits they have been allocated on July 31, and the deadline for making decisions is today, according to e-mail messages obtained by The New York Sun.

"We understand the need for the city to reduce traffic and limit the number of parking permits for schools," the principals' union president, Ernest Logan, said. "However, we do not understand the urgency in which principals are being asked to provide this information. Principals need to consult and collaborate with staff that will be directly affected by this new policy."

A Department of Education spokeswoman, Marge Feinberg, said the department will be flexible in enforcing deadlines. "We are making accommodations for those principals who are away," she said. "They can let us know when school opens next month."

The Department of Education is the last of the city agencies to be included in Mayor Bloomberg's effort to cut down on permits issued to city employees. The project is supposed to reduce the city's carbon footprint, encourage people to use public transportation, and cut down on misuse of the permits.

The police department has already cut 33% of its placards, and the fire department has cut 27%, a City Hall spokesman, Jason Post, said.

Mr. Post said the city will not know how many permits the Department of Education is cutting until the start of the academic year.

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