Beverly Hills 90210 -- Or Else!
The L.A. Times reports that the Beverly Hills Unified School District will soon lose state government-sponsored financial incentives that have encouraged the enrollment of students who live outside the district. If you're a Beverly Hills-adjacent parent, sending your kid to a Beverly Hills school means a lot more than the prestige of renting a mail box within the 90210. The schools' academic programs are highly rated, which has made Beverly Hills learning institutions magnet schools of a different sort -- attracting more than 16 percent of their student body from outside the city's limits.
In an arrangement that mimics California's past "guest worker" programs, non-resident students are given "opportunity permits" that allow them to attend Beverly Hills schools. In return for this largess, the school district receives $6,114 for each outside student. Now, however, the BHUSD is poised to become, by 2011, a "basic aid" district that will support itself solely on local tax revenues. Its board will decide the matter later this month; if it does go basic, BHUSD will face the thorny task of refusing entry to students currently enrolled -- and, in a worst-case scenario, before they graduate.
One proposal offered as a compromise is to allow currently enrolled non-residents to remain in their schools until they complete the fifth, eighth and twelfth grades, depending on whether they are in elementary, middle or high school. Some local parents, however, are opposed to this, especially those who claim to have moved into Beverly Hills just so their children could attend school there.The issue has become a contentious one, resulting in an acrimonious January board meeting with permit parents that lasted until midnight.
The district will still offer a limited number of non-residential permits and last month voted to increase the number of so-called legacy permits to the children of non-resident alumni whose parents have lived in Beverly Hills for the past 10 years and pay property taxes there. Call it the ultimate grandfather clause.
At the time of that vote the Beverly Hills Courier quoted school board member Myra Demeter's opposition to the increase: "To suggest not having opportunity permits, but allowing legacy permits is deeply troubling to me."