By Caitlin Perrone
Published: May 25, 2014
Eight high schools will hold graduation ceremonies on the Texas A&M campus at Reed
Arena in two weeks, and those attending could expect to shell out a few extra dollars
in parking fees.
This year's graduation ceremonies are planned for the next weekend and the weekend
of June 6. A&M Consolidated High School grads will walk the stage Friday, while
Montgomery, Tomball and Tomball Memorial high schools will conduct ceremonies on
June 6. Magnolia, Magnolia West, Bryan and Rudder high schools are scheduled for
back-to-back ceremonies on June 7.
High school graduation ceremonies have been held at the arena for years, though
as school districts have grown, the number of graduating seniors and their attendees
have caused the size of the ceremonies to increase drastically, said Debbie Hoffman,
the associate director with the Department of Parking and Transportation Services.
To handle the increased attendance, the university will staff additional enforcement
officers to handle traffic before and after each graduation ceremony, she said.
"As graduations have grown, and the scheduling of them is so tight that one
has not left before the next one is arriving, it's required a much more comprehensive
staffing and traffic plan," she said.
Reed Arena is surrounded by six parking lots, which hold a total of 1,500 cars,
according to the arena's website. Those aiming to attend graduation ceremonies
may also have to compete with fans attending the NCAA baseball regionals.
The tight turnaround times between ceremonies and large crowds have put pressure
on university parking resources in the past. Consecutive ceremonies left little
time to clear traffic before cars for the next ceremony would arrive, which led
to unsafe behavior such as curb hopping, attendees attempting to direct traffic,
and parking at the end of rows and blocking the aisles, Hoffman said. Two years
ago, the university decided to beef up personnel staff for parking starting this
Last year, the total for parking for all graduation ceremonies cost $10,146, which
was divided between the various schools, Hoffman said. The total cost for this year
The higher bill could either be paid by the schools or by pay-upon-arrival by the
"Some schools could not afford to pay the additional fees for parking and traffic
support ... in response to concerns raised about [the] budget, we offered the option
to cashier upon entry to cover the costs," Hoffman said in an email.
A&M Consolidated High School was the only school to foot the bill up front and
will pay $7,000 to the parking department. A spokesperson for the College Station
school district said on Friday that the school did what was in the best interest
of their attendees.
"It's just a different way that they've selected to cover the costs,"
The other seven schools chose the pay-upon-arrival option, though Magnolia, Magnolia
West, Bryan and Rudder high schools purchased one parking permit for each graduate.
All other attendees can expect to pay $5 per vehicle, which is a common event parking
fee at the arena.
Bryan school district Superintendent Tommy Wallis encouraged those attending graduation
ceremonies for Bryan and Rudder high schools to carpool in vehicles in order to
cut down on parking fees. The district is paying $3,840 in fees for graduates and
"Bryan ISD paid for a parking pass for each graduate from Bryan High and Rudder
High. Any additional parking fees are imposed and collected by Texas A&M parking
officials," spokesperson Brandon Webb said Friday.