Providence Hall and Santa Barbara Christian School have announced a merger to become Santa Barbara’s first comprehensive Christian school serving kindergarten through 12th grade.

A merger between Providence Hall and Santa Barbara Christian School has been approved by the respective schools’ boards of directors and by the Santa Barbara Christian School Corporation. This merger unites the two schools into one new entity, with the recommended name and tagline “Providence, A Santa Barbara Christian School.”

The new school will begin operations in July, welcoming new and returning students from grades K-12 in August. A newly formed board of directors, with representatives from both the former Providence Hall and Santa Barbara Christian School boards, will govern the new school entity.

“I think we have a wonderful opportunity to build a new institution from two schools that already share remarkably similar missions,” said Barry Goss, president of the Santa Barbara Christian School board of directors. “Christian education has the unique ability to cultivate faith and values in students, as well as equip them academically, and that will shape our community in very positive ways. We could not be more excited.”

Randy Clark, the president of the Providence Hall board, was equally enthusiastic, saying, “We’re excited about the future of Christian education in Santa Barbara. This year has been an incredible one for our school: the girls’ basketball team winning the CIF Championship, being awarded the Outstanding Campus Award from the California Educators’ Hall of Fame, and now merging with Santa Barbara Christian. We are blessed to partner with such a fine school. Santa Barbara Christian School shares our Christian values and passion for educating young people well.”

He continued, noting SBCS’s excellent visual arts program, annual Washington, D.C., trip, and its favorable teacher-to-student ratio.

“The end result is that we believe we will offer Santa Barbara the best K-12 experience,” he said.

The new school will maintain two campuses. The lower school campus (SBCS’s current campus) will be home to grades K to 6, while the upper school campus (Providence Hall’s current campus) will accommodate grades 7 to 12. Both campuses will undergo enhancements this summer. The upper school is currently preparing for a 1:1 iPad program for the high school and equipping all classrooms with state-of-the-art mobile furniture that allows teachers the control and flexibility to use a variety of instructional modes, addressing the various learning styles of each student.

Providence Hall and SBCS envision a Christian school with a diverse student body, competitive athletic programs, dynamic arts offerings, and a rich preparatory curriculum. Providence will offer students a continuous, high-quality K-12 education delivered by an energetic Christian faculty in an innovative, thoughtful, and family-friendly environment.

Chris Rutz, head of school at SBCS, and David O’Neil, head of school of Providence Hall, are excited to be working together to make the most of the many opportunities enabled by this merger. Rutz and O’Neil are already taking the necessary steps to align the two schools for the fall and to ensure each student, and their family, makes a smooth transition into the newly formed school.

“SBCS has a proud 53-year history, and Providence has built an outstanding school in a very short period of time. This is truly a merger of two highly successful schools which will position us to grow much more in the years to come,” Rutz said. “The opportunity to double the size of our middle school is a significant benefit to both schools in athletics and performing arts, as well as in the classroom.”

“Curriculum and programs alone are not what engages the mind or shapes the heart of a young person,” O’Neil said. “At Providence, students will enjoy a one-of-a-kind educational experience with Christian teachers who encourage curiosity, equip students to achieve success, and inspire a love for learning.”

This is not the first time Rutz and O’Neil have worked together. Prior to moving to Santa Barbara they were colleagues leading their respective Christian schools in West Los Angeles. Both Rutz and O’Neil were integral in building their former schools into noteworthy institutions and are eager for this newly unified school to provide outstanding education for generations to come.

With the announcement of the merger, and the school’s plan for future growth, Providence, A Santa Barbara Christian School is accepting applications for most grade levels. For information regarding grades K to 6, contact the Lower School Campus at 805.563.4770. For information regarding grades 7 to 12, contact the Upper School Campus at 805.962.4400.

— David O’Neil is head of school at Providence Hall.