by Jim Caroompas
Plans to expand Berean Christian High School from 400 to 600 students are on hold and probably off the table after neighbors balked at the lighted sports field and other expansion plans.
“Berean was originally an elementary school with 140 students,” said Dan Simoes, a member of the Rancho San Miguel Association near the school. “Now (the high school is) at 400. And we’re ok with that. They’re good neighbors. But then, out of the blue, they come up with this plan to drastically increase their enrollment to 700 students, add a second story and lights on their football field. There was quickly a huge pushback from the neighborhood.”
Nelson Noriega, principal of Berean for 13 years, said that each year the school turns away 70 to 80 students for lack of room.
“They could go to public school for free, but their parents want to pay the price and come here. When I turn them down, some of them go away in tears.”
So Noriega and the school’s board came up with a plan to increase attendance by making more room at the school. That included a plan for a second story. The athletic director suggested lights for the football field to accommodate night games.
“We invited the neighborhood to see what we were talking about,” Noriega said. “We had a total of three meetings. Never in my life have I been to such hostile meetings before.”
“When we bought our house, we knew the school was there,” Simoes said. “They take good care of their property But 700 students with nighttime football and softball games would definitely change the character of this neighborhood.”
“If I were living in this neighborhood, I’d be concerned too,” Noriega said. “But I’m sad because we’ve caused this disturbance among the neighbors, and we have to keep turning kids away.”
But for the time being, Noriega said, any plans to expand the school are on hold, and likely off the table.
“The board said maybe we should just concentrate on continuing to be a really great school for 400 kids,” he said.