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Brethren Christian school in Huntington Beach will close after 73 years, letter to school community says

Brethren Christian High School in Huntington Beach will close after 73 years, with school officials saying there is a financial shortfall amid declining enrollment.

With Brethren Christian facing a $650,000 deficit for next year’s budget, keeping the school open would mean additional staff and teacher cuts, “which would compromise the excellent education BCHS has always provided,” the school’s board chair, Lee Wilhite, said in a letter to the school community sent Monday, July 6, and shared with The Orange County Register.

Neither Wilhite nor the school’s superintendent, Matt Chavez, could be reached for comment as of Tuesday morning.

In his letter, Wilhite said the school faced a $900,000 deficit as of two weeks ago. The school community stepped in to help, trying to fundraise to close the budget gap, and there was an offer to move the campus to another location for no rent next year. More than 50 people also gathered on campus and online for a prayer a week ago, Wilhite said.

But the community’s efforts weren’t enough to make up the deficit, in part due to seven more students who have withdrawn from the school in the last two weeks, Wilhite said. The school’s enrollment has dropped significantly in the last few years, going from about 280 students in 2017 to about 100 as of the 2019-2020 school year. According to its website, the school dropped seventh and eighth grades last year as it moved to the campus of Grace Lutheran Church.

“Above all, we did not want to enter into a new school year uncertain of whether we could complete the year,” Wilhite said. “That wouldn’t be fair to our teachers and staff, and most of all to our students and families.”

The school’s board will be working with a legal firm and a handful of staff members to wind down Brethren Christian’s operations over the next several weeks, Wilhite’s letter said. Those who gave recently to Brethren Christian can let the school know if they want it to return their donation, he said.

Source: Orange County Register

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