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Some teachers unhappy over insufficient parking lots, MOE steps in to allow them to park in bus bays

SINGAPORE — Ahead of the imposition of parking charges on teachers on Wednesday (Aug 1), the move gave rise to an unexpected problem in some schools: A lack of parking lots due to high demand for season parking, which caused unhappiness among some teachers after they were unsuccessful in ballot exercises for parking spaces.

Teachers at all national schools and junior colleges will soon have to pay for parking, following a carpark policy review for schools. Photo: Koh Mui Fong/TODAY

Teachers at all national schools and junior colleges will soon have to pay for parking, following a carpark policy review for schools. Photo: Koh Mui Fong/TODAY

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SINGAPORE — Ahead of the imposition of parking charges on teachers on Wednesday (Aug 1), the move gave rise to an unexpected problem in some schools: A lack of parking lots due to high demand for season parking, which caused unhappiness among some teachers after they were unsuccessful in ballot exercises for parking spaces.

Previously, teachers in some schools were allowed to park at undesignated parking lots, but were unable to do so after the Ministry of Education announced in March that all teachers would have to pay for parking from Aug 1 in line with the Public Service Division's clean wage policy.

The issue was resolved after some schools wrote in to the authorities to allow staff to use the bus parking lots, although these cannot be permanently converted into car park lots due to government stipulations.

Responding to TODAY's queries, a Ministry of Education (MOE) spokesperson said schools have been given the discretion to do so, as some do not require regular school bus services for their students.

However, they will have to retain "the marked bus parking lots to cater to incidental bus traffic, such as for events or field trips", added the spokesperson .

Acknowledging the issues that some schools face when it comes to car park lots, the ministry spokesperson said: "Where necessary, schools may also guide staff to park in available car parks nearby."

The ministry did not disclose how many schools had written in with requests.

Rosyth Primary School was one of the schools that did so, as its teachers had to ballot for lots due to insufficient parking spaces.

Two teachers told TODAY that 41 were successful in the ballot exercise, while nine teachers did not get a lot. Its principal and one of the three vice-principals opted out of the ballot so that teachers could get the parking spaces instead.

"It was like primary one registration. Teachers who missed out (during the ballot) voiced their unhappiness," said one Rosyth Primary teacher, who is in his 30s.

Previously, teachers were able to park at the bus bays within the school.

But Rosyth Primary had to appeal to MOE and the Land Transport Authority in order to create new parking lots for teachers at these spaces in order to adhere to the new policy for parking charges.

Under this policy, those who drive cars have to pay S$720 annually for parking in uncovered lots, and S$960 for covered lots. Motorcycle lots were pegged at S$123 yearly for uncovered lots, and S$135 for covered lots.

An email sent by one of the school's vice-principals to teachers said that MOE has "taken in schools' feedback and revised the guidelines on the addition of new car parking lots, and the use of school premises for car parking, following further discussions with LTA".

According to the vice-principal, schools are now given the autonomy to allow parking in bus bays, as well as unmarked spaces. This is provided that the arrangements do not impose risks on safety or traffic management by blocking the fire engine access road, pick-up or drop-off points, and waiting spaces for parents.

The vice-principal said that following the appeal, Rosyth Primary can now allow 21 vehicles to park in the bus bays, and nine teachers who are on the waitlist, as well as the school leaders will be each allocated a car park lot.

When asked how the number of parking lots are determined in each school, the MOE spokesperson said that parking spaces and demand vary across schools.

Primary and secondary schools currently accommodate between 20 and 40 cars each, while junior colleges can fit between 60 and 80 cars. In addition, schools are required to have spaces to park at least four buses.

"Schools may choose to create additional parking spaces within their premises, while ensuring that regulatory and safety requirements, such as dimensions and arrangement of parking spaces and circulation aisle, are met," added the spokesperson.

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