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Better Together:  Providence and ELMO Merge for Sustainable Greatness in Christian Education

April 19, 2018 by Elaine Rottman

Some things simply are better together: peanut butter and jelly, chips and salsa, movies and popcorn, and Batman and Robin, to name just a few. While great on their own, in combination they enhance each other, becoming better for being together.

By a unanimous vote on Monday, April 16, the boards of directors of El Montecito School San Roque (ELMO) and Providence, A Santa Barbara Christian School (Providence, SBCS) made the decision to merge, becoming better together. Both schools have served Santa Barbara for decades.

The mission, vision, and culture of both schools are fundamentally similar. The ELMO motto “where character meets wisdom” and the Providence, SBCS motto “Truth, Beauty, Excellence” pursue the same values for the same reasons, according to a joint statement issued by Mr. Randal Clark, Providence board president and Mr. Drew Dusebout, ELMO board president: “The mission of our combined schools remains to develop and nurture character grounded in God’s word, academic excellence, principled leadership, and a commitment to service in each and every one of our students.”

Providence, SBCS has operated since 1959, first as an elementary school (Santa Barbara Christian School) and then as a preschool–grade 12 school after a merger with Providence Hall in 2014. El Montecito School, founded in 1958, serves preschool–grade 6 students.

Coming together enhances stewardship by sharing resources—campus facilities, strong faculty and administration, and committed families. According to the statement, “in order for us to do our part in stewarding our school and to achieve sustainable greatness (excellence today, tomorrow, next year, and years from now), we must embrace change. We want to assure that our schools thrive in perpetuity. This merger assures our best days are ahead.”

As of July 1, 2018, the merger will be official and the new combined school, to be called Providence School, will serve two-year-old preschoolers through high school seniors. All accreditations and affiliations, including CIF athletics, will be maintained.

Students currently enrolled or accepted for admission for the 2018-19 school year will come together in classes ranging from 18-22 students per grade level. New applications will continue to be accepted, with the distinct possibility of waiting lists being created for some classes. Further details and procedures will appear on this website as they are worked out.

Preschool and elementary students will meet on the San Roque campus (3225 Calle Pinon) currently home to ELMO. Plans are being developed for middle school and high school students (grades 7-12) to move from the Canon Perdido campus to the current Providence, SBCS elementary campus (3723 Modoc Road). Improvements will be made at both campuses to accommodate and enhance the experience for the particular student population. According to the board presidents’ joint statement, “We believe this is a huge blessing as both campuses are centrally located and have secure leases with favorable terms.”

Providence will no longer pursue developing a property at the Pacific Tech Center in Goleta, which had been identified as a potential home for the middle and high school programs.

Current administration from both ELMO and Providence will lead the combined school. Dr. Tim Loomer (currently at ELMO and formerly at Providence) will be Interim Head of School; Mr. Scott Rockney will continue as Associate Head of School and Principal of Upper School; Mr. Matt Knoles will lead the Lower School as principal, continuing in his Providence, SBCS role; Ms. Cathy Rempe will direct the Preschool, continuing in her ELMO role. Dr. Scott Lisea, Head of School at Providence, SBCS for the past three years, will help lead a transition committee made up of board members from both schools. 

“We are fortunate to have continuity of strong leaders and a community that already knows one another,” state Mr. Clark and Mr. Dusebout. “Santa Barbara is a small town and many of the people working at, serving, or attending either Providence or ELMO are already connected through churches, youth activities, and friendships. Now we have the opportunity to share in the education of our children together as one extended family.”

Family—brothers and sisters in unity—it’s one more thing that is better together.

To learn more, please visit the Better Together FAQ page.