In a move recurring throughout the state because of a severe budget crisis, the wealthy Beverly Hills school district plans to kick out 400 elementary students who live outside the district. The new policy will not affect non-district students in high school.
The issue has inflamed sentiment in this exclusive community, which has long boasted schools that are recognized for excellence. They offer a rich menu of extracurricular activities ranging from madrigal singers to water polo in the renowned “swim gym”—an indoor basketball court that retracts to reveal a pool underneath.
But petitions, Facebook threats and name-calling are what have been on display in recent months. Police attended Tuesday’s meeting in case tempers flared into unruly conduct, but the audience remained largely civil. Board President Steven Fenton ejected two audience members for heckling members of the board.
Former Mayor Robert K. Tanenbaum presented the school board with a petition signed by 2,600 residents in favor of allowing the so-called permit students to matriculate.
“We made a commitment to these children when we needed the dollars. The children are not expendable. They are not financial assets,” he said, to a standing ovation.
Some Beverly Hills residents spoke in favor of the board’s proposed action to end the “opportunity permit” policy.
“This is a community trying to take care of its own, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Genevieve Peters said.
Most of the permit students live in well-to-do neighborhoods that surround Beverly Hills, according to AP. They can go to private school or attend a beleaguered school in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which boasts a 33 percent dropout rate. At least one family mentioned in the article plans to rent an apartment in Beverly Hills to stay in the school district.
The Beverly Hills school district has decided to rely on its own property tax dollars to self-fund its schools rather than accept the state’s $6,239 for each out-of-district student it schools. More from AP:
The situation has cropped up elsewhere in California. With recent cuts in state education spending, wealthy communities are finding that their property taxes earmarked for state education budgets exceed the amount they receive from the state for their schools.
Irvine Unified School District, which also switched to self-financing, ended out-of-district enrollment last year.
First of all, it is a shame that not all schools are like those in Beverly Hills. The facilities alone sound sweet. Also it is disturbing that the best public schools in the country are becoming as inaccessible as the most elite private schools. What say you? How is your school district dealing with this financial crisis?