The Beverly Hills Board of Education this week reversed an earlier decision to install a 6-foot tall chain-link fence around in order to increase security there.
The board accepted an alternate security option that will make BHHS a closed-campus school. Until recently, it was fairly easy to enter the grounds during school hours.
Now the campus is closed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week. All doors, gates and parking structures are locked from 8:15 a.m. until 1 p.m. Everyone who enters the campus between 8:15 a.m. and 1:45 p.m., including students, will have to check in with the newly enhanced security at the main entrance. Parents and visitors will need an appointment to gain entry.
The board majority had voted Jan. 24 to over objections from many students and parents who felt that a fence would destroy the open atmosphere of BHHS. The vote was held weeks after several security breaches on the campus.
At Monday's board meeting, members voted 5-0 to abandon the fence idea and instead close the south end of the campus from Olympic Boulevard northward. They also voted to add two more security guards to the main north entrance.
“I always thought there was more than one option to secure the campus,” Board President Lisa Korbatov told Patch. “I want to give this option a chance—we can always fence off the property if necessary.”
It was initially thought the fence would cost about $26,000, with up to $70,000 in additional costs for hiring security consultants and getting the required government approvals. But the actual cost turned out to be several times that amount, which prompted the board to seek an alternate plan.
The fence was also a hard sell to the public. The BHHS Parent-Student-Teacher Association officially opposed erecting the fence, and several parents commented on Patch that they did not believe a fence was the way to teach teenagers to take care of themselves and others.
“The end result may well be that we are giving our children a false sense of security. … Our tradition of an open campus is great preparation for college and we can improve security by training our students in threat recognition and [training] our teaching and security staff in the most appropriate response,” wrote Damien Bean, a member of the board’s advisory .
As board Vice President Brian Goldberg points out, the new BHHS security will depend upon "the staff to implement this plan."