El Rodeo Campus Tour Builds Excitement for Students’ Return

After a modernization project that began in 2019, El Rodeo Elementary School is scheduled to welcome back students in August, and during a March 21 campus tour, Beverly Hills Unified School District officials got a preview of what students can expect. 

“It was bittersweet as it has been a long time coming, but participants on the tour were thrilled to see the bond dollars were well spent for a new campus which highlighted notes and features that were present 50 years ago,” BHUSD Board President Dr. Amanda Stern told the Beverly Hills Courier. 

Stern said she was delighted to see the interior furnishings and added that construction crews were finishing installation of the soccer field, security cameras and courtyard. 

Board Vice President Rachelle Marcus was also impressed that the construction team, led by Santa Clarita management and consulting firm Fonder-Salari, had preserved much of the school’s character while still updating the facilities. 

“It’s amazing,” Marcus said. “The kids are going to have so many things they didn’t have before.”     

While there were still some changes Marcus and other officials wanted to make, her priority is getting the school open to students, and it was important to avoid making any major alterations that would require approval by the Division of the State Architect (DSA) and could result in further delays.  

“I really feel we need to get in and can fix things later,” Marcus said. “It’s been too long; we don’t want any delays.”    

According to Fonder-Salari CEO Amin Salari, the El Rodeo modernization has been recognized beyond the Beverly Hills Community.  

“The El Rodeo project was submitted to the Construction Management Association of America Southern California chapter for an award,” he said during the March 26 BHUSD Board Meeting. “The project was selected for the above $50 million category for an award in Southern California.”  

During an update at the March 26 meeting on the district’s construction projects, Board Member Noah Margo said he wanted to reduce the size of El Rodeo’s community garden and add more play space for students.  

Margo and others also advocated for redesigning some of the school’s fencing, including painting it a new color. Fonder-Salari CEO Amin Salari said the proposed changes would cost roughly $80,000, and he encouraged the board to focus on completing the modernization before making further changes. 


From left, BHUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Raphael Guzman, Board Member Noah Margo, Board Vice President Rachelle Marcus and former Mayor Les Bronte were all smiles after seeing the modernized campus.

“At some point we have to finish this project,” Salari said. “If we can leave it then let’s just live with it for a year and plan for it closer to next summer.” 

Marcus echoed that point. 

“We want to get it done. And we want to be able to move in, and we can make some of these changes later,” Marcus said. 

Final inspection of the modernization project is scheduled for June, and the school’s grand opening and ribbon cutting is scheduled for Aug. 11.

The board also discussed updates to the Horace Mann Elementary School campus during the meeting.

Will Karrat, Executive Director of Construction Services, said crews are preparing to install a new shade structure on the kindergarten play area next to Hamel Drive, also known as the TK Patio. He added that although the DSA had approved a smaller structure than what was originally proposed, the structure would still provide far more shade than the umbrellas it is replacing.

Karrat also discussed a new shaded play structure that will be placed on top of a rubber surface and separated from the nearest building by artificial turf. After the board approved the plans, Karrat said he is hoping to receive DSA approval by summer.  

“We’ll be looking for procurement options as far as what types of shades we can buy, and then of course the pricing we’ll present to you when we come to it,” he added. 

The board also debated a planned circular pickup and drop-off location on Charleville Boulevard. Board Member Judy Manoucherhi said she wasn’t sure it was necessary given the other entrances to the school, and she asked if the plans were in response to parent requests.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy said the proposed pickup site “gives some flexibility to the school” as other pickup and drop-off locations create traffic issues. Also, the new drop-off location will improve safety as crowds of parents and teachers at the existing drop-off locations sometimes spill into the street, he added.  

Marcus disapproved of plans to erect a wrought iron fence around the drop-off site. She thought it was unnecessary and would take up too much space, but other board members agreed it would help keep students out of the street and would remain open during the day to ensure students could access the entire campus. 

The project is expected to cost $50,000, and Karrat will present the board an official proposal once the plans are approved, he added.   

Salari also updated the board on the procurement process for Beverly Hills High School Building C.  

After releasing requests for proposals on Feb. 8, Fonder-Salari is now reviewing the four proposals received last month, and Salari hopes to bring a recommendation to the board in April, he said.  

“Each one of these companies I consider … a leader in educational construction,” he added. 

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