Beverly Hills High School is getting fenced in after all.
Months after a debate erupted about installing an, the Board of Education unanimously agreed last week to spend about $250,000 to install a motorized chain-link fence around the perimeter of the campus. Unlike the original proposal, however, the BHHS’ iconic front lawn—where graduation is usually held—will not be inside the fence.
Construction of the fence is to begin as soon as possible, with a goal of having it completed when students return to school in the fall. The fence’s gates will limit access to the gym and the tennis courts, and parts of the fence will be mechanized to open only for cars with access to the campus.
The new fence proposal comes after months of input from a BHHS led by Principal Carter Paysinger and school security. The task force was formed after a major security breach in December when a 26-year-old male adult walked into a morning classroom and sat among students.
Input from various components of the task force, including the Beverly Hills police and fire departments, “resulted in a substantial cost increase to this project,” Nelson Cayabyab, chief facilities manager for the Beverly Hills Unified School District, said at a special board meeting Thursday evening.
Cost estimates from the hired architects and construction management firms ranged from about $208,000 to $274,000, so Cayabyab estimated the final cost to be around $250,000. That is more than double the fence budget of $121,000 that the board previously approved.
Board member Jake Manaster expressed concern about spending the funds because much of the fence would have to be taken down when BHHS receives major reconstruction that is planned with Measure E money. Those renovations are scheduled to start in four to five years.
“If you divide the amount by four that is $50,000 or $60,000 a year for security,” he said, noting that made it easier for him to accept.
Under questioning from board Vice President Brian Goldberg, Cayabyab estimated that the BHUSD will be able to recoup about 40 percent of the fence’s costs when BHHS goes through Measure E renovations. Those costs are associated with the mechanized assembly for the automated sections of the fence.
The idea of a fence around the campus was a tough sell to school parents, many of whom attended BHHS and remember it as an open campus.
The new fence is designed to address security concerns while still giving the community access to the popular front lawn, board members said.