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Beverly Hills News – Mayor Tells BHUSD To Share Construction Shut-Downs On Eve of Election

Posted: Monday, October 19, 2015 – 3:34 PM

By Victoria Talbot

Beverly Hills Mayor Julian Gold will ask the Beverly Hills Unified School District to clarify the district plans for seismic mitigations affecting classrooms and field space in advance of the summer season of camps, classes and sports programs that normally use school facilities in a Joint Powers Agreement worth nearly $10 million to the District.

“These programs are dependent on school facilities for city—based programming, such as AYSO (soccer), basketball and Little League,” said Mayor Gold. “The City actually gets field fees for these programs to offset the costs. The school district is going to need fields, too. How do we meet those needs?”

Gold said that the discussion Tuesday evening will not be about the $10 million JPA fund. “That is premature and will have to be another conversation,” he said.

The discussion has been visited at the school-city liaison committee meetings. Councilmember Willie Brien and Mayor Gold are the council liaisons for that committee.
“This is the first opportunity for the council and the community to hear about it, for the council to ask questions, and to give direction to City staff to develop a plan to mitigate the impacts. Collectively, we have to find a way to provide these services.”

Gold is concerned about the impact that this will have on parents who rely on after school programs and the abundance of sports programs that the City sponsors.

In 2014, the City’s programs at Horace Mann were displaced during that school’s renovations. Then in May of this year, the district suddenly closed three auditoriums which are also used for City programs.

The District has updated the construction schedule and impacts several times over the last three months, and then suddenly, last month, the campuses at El Rodeo and Hawthorne elementary schools were closed over issues with the school’s cupolas.

In that instance, the City had to refund $2,291 for classes at Hawthorne that could not be rescheduled.

Sudden field closures at El Rodeo have resulted in the refunding of $1,650 for students enrolled in after-school basketball when it was moved to Roxbury Park and they were unable to get transportation.

Some alternative arrangements have been offered and are being explored at El Rodeo. The district has asked that parking restrictions in the residential neighborhoods around El Rodeo be changed to allow staff parking on the street during construction with the parking lot closed. That issue has not been addressed yet.

As to the timing of the discussion, during an extremely heated political season with school board  elections only weeks away, Mayor Gold said “This is only about making sure we have a robust plan to provide programming to our kids.”

“I will stop anybody who is politicking,” he said. “It’s very simple. We need to know what is the district’s plan and what is the impact on the City and the schools’ programming.”

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