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Board juggles safety, culture in debate of fencing front lawn

Jason Harward, graphics editor

In lieu of multiple school shootings around the country and the overall shift to safer schools, the Board of Education proposed a fence around Beverly during their most recent board meeting on Jan. 26, 2016.

Although a permanent fence could cost upwards of $400,000 and would add to the already large amount of construction being done in the near future, Board President Howard Goldstein believes that a fence is necessary for a safer school.

“School fences cut down on crime, trespassing, and vandalism. [The] fence will provide both real security and be aesthetically in tune with the look of the buildings,” Goldstein said.

The Board has been trying to secure fencing for Beverly since January, 2011, when construction was approved for a six-foot tall chain link fence. However, two more attempts, in June, 2011, and December, 2012, both failed in favor of making Beverly a “closed campus” by substantially increasing the numbers of patrolling security guards.

In 2015, a District Security Committee was created with membership from the BHPD and the BHFD. After several meetings, the committee recommended that Beverly be assigned BHPD officer Jesse Perez to assist with campus security.

However, a fence around the campus may be a step too far, as junior Patrick Levy believes the front lawn is an integral part of campus culture

“I would not want our school fenced in. The front lawn serves as a place for the community to play with their dogs or throw a football around. If the lawn is fenced in, it loses one of its main purposes,” Levy said. However, he did note that “the good part about fencing in the school is to keep our school safe.”

Although some students oppose a fence around the front lawn, Goldstein believes the positive side of a fence outweighs the negative, adding that he expects the architect to avoid making the fence look “like a prison, which will undermine the purpose of the fencing.”

“The front lawn may no longer be used impermissibly by people that do not clean up after their dogs,” Goldstein said. “Hopefully, with a more sanitary area, students will be comfortable to sit outside, eat lunch and hang out together on the front lawn.”

All things considered, the Board will move forward with student safety at the forefront of their decision.

“[The] Board is working hard not to rush things through, and trying not to be reactionary.  Those were the mistakes of the past. That is why this Board is taking an approach that is vetted through our security professionals, our site administrators and our school site councils before any security plan is implemented,” Goldstein said.

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