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Board Still Undecided On Major Permit Issues

Little was resolved surrounding the contentious permit issue at the board of education meeting Feb. 24. Members met in an open session that extended well beyond the designated time frame and came to very few conclusions.

The goal of the meeting, and the reason for the overwhelming attendance of residents and parents alike, was the hope that the ongoing conflict surrounding the extension of inter-district permits would be resolved.

Inter-district opportunity permits have become the hotly contended category as they represent the majority of permits extended, although legacy and diversity permits have come under fire.

Many argue that the opportunity, legacy and diversity permits have the potential to negatively influence critical aspects of the school system including displacement of resident students and, once the district moves into basic aid, or when BHUSD no longer receives funding from the State but instead relies solely on resident property taxes, jeopardize an already ailing budget. “We have an economic reality we are facing,” said board member Brian Goldberg. “One of our goals this year was to create a plan for transitioning into basic aid and [the permit] issue is part of that plan.”

Others fear that those already in the permit system, students that most likely sacrificed positions at other schools or have built crucial relationships within the community, will suddenly be unaccounted for, forced out of the district or treated unjustly. “This issue has polarized and divided our community like never before,” said board member Myra Demeter.

Said board member Steven Fenton in support of Goldberg’s proposed plan of natural breaking points – at the culmination of each major grade year (8, 12), depending on time spent within the district – for phasing out opportunity permits, “I think we have lost sight of something. We do not represent the constituents of Cheviot Hills. We represent the constituents of Beverly Hills. While I am sympathetic to Cheviot Hills, I am for Beverly Hills.”

Resident parent Lee Lewis said in a statement to the board, “Your recent actions related to the district’s permit policy which devalue Beverly Hills residency and thus our net worth has proven that you are not in tune with your constituency. Your actions will be followed and highlighted in upcoming November elections and make sure they decisive role in your future participation on this board.”

As of midnight Feb. 24, all permit issues pertaining to inter-district permits would require a second reading and were not approved by the board, aside from the unanimous consensus amongst the board to continue to offer employee permits.

Outstanding issues that were concluded pertain to intra-district permits, or those students that transfer from their home school within the district to another BHUSD site.

•    All students enrolled by June 30 will be granted a position at home school, barring space is available. Should the student displaced, this movement will only occur once.

•    Legacy, diversity, employee and environmental permits will continue to be issued.

•    No new opportunity permits will be issued.

•    Students who leave the district will be allowed to continue through “natural breaking points” after they have established four years in the district.

The permit issue will be revisited and voted on in the forthcoming board meeting, March 10.

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