Berean Christian Academy closes its doors

Classes ended May 27 at Berean Academy, which operated a high school at its building at 19751 U.S. 41 N in Lutz, shown here, and at a grammar school it operated in a rented South Tampa space.

CARRIE PRATT | Times (2008)

Classes ended May 27 at Berean Academy, which operated a high school at its building at 19751 U.S. 41 N in Lutz, shown here, and at a grammar school it operated in a rented South Tampa space.

Parents shed a lot of tears over the closing of Berean Christian Academy, said Vivian Germain, who is now looking for a new school for her 14-year-old daughter.

"I feel like she flourished in the two years she was there.''

Classes ended May 27, and Wednesday was officially the last day for this private school with campuses in Lutz and Tampa.

"We were unable to achieve our enrollment and financial objectives, especially in the area of fundraising,'' said Eric Taylor, board chairman of the school, which opened in 1995.

A foreclosure action is under way against Berean, which owes $11.1 million of $12 million it borrowed in 2006 to build the high school at 19751 U.S. 41 N in Lutz.

Taylor said the school is cooperating with the lender, the nonprofit Trust for Rehabilitation and Nurturing Youth and Families Inc., to turn over the property.

"It's a sad situation,'' said Taylor, a Tampa lawyer whose three children attended Berean. He praised the school's emphasis on a Christian liberal-arts education.

Berean had about 145 students in the high school in Lutz and 30 students in the South Tampa grammar school at 3515 Bay to Bay Blvd., in a building the school rented. Tuition ranged from $9,000 to $11,000 per year.

Former Berean headmaster Hal Brunson estimated that about 25 percent of the student body will enroll in the fall at the new Trinity Preparatory School, 125 Country Club Drive, where Brunson has taken a job as headmaster.

Taylor said the troubled economy limited Berean's ability to raise funds and increase enrollment.

While some Christian schools are thriving, said Ken Wackes, executive director of Christian Schools of Florida, an accrediting organization, others may be suffering because more families can no longer afford the tuition.

Philip Morgan can be reached at (813) 226-3435 or pmorgan@sptimes.com.

Berean Christian Academy closes its doors 06/16/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 16, 2011 5:30am]

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