Hebrew charter school in Florida offers to take students after Greensboro’s American Hebrew Academy suddenly closes

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — A Hebrew charter school in Florida says they'll take in all American Hebrew Academy students after the Greensboro school suddenly shut down this week.

Ben Gamla Preparatory Academy told FOX8 that the school will send a letter Wednesday to parents and students of AHA offering students to move down to Hollywood, Florida.

Headed by Principal Gayle Iacono, Ben Gamla describes itself as the only Hebrew English Charter High School in the United States.

The curriculum includes Hebrew history, language and culture.

"As a Florida Charter School we charge no tuition and all students that reside in Florida are eligible to attend Ben Gamla Preparatory Academy for free," Iacono wrote. "There is no prior Florida residency requirement to attend Ben Gamla Preparatory Academy."

This means that as soon as the student moves down to the Sunshine State, they can attend the school for free.

While the school does not offer housing, students whose families are not in South Florida have been able to live with other parents or work with companies to find host families in the area.

Students can apply from other states.

"We would welcome any and all students that attended The American Hebrew Academy to attend Ben Gamla Preparatory Academy in Hollywood, Florida for the coming school year that starts August 14, 2019," Iacono wrote.

Anyone who would like more information can contact the school at (954) 924-6495.

The American Hebrew Academy community learned early Tuesday morning that they lost their jobs, and students lost their spot at the only Jewish college preparatory boarding school in the country.

The gates at the AHA are closing after nearly two decades.

"Everybody was speechless and in utter shock," Rabbi Yosef Plotkin said.

Plotkin is the campus rabbi and taught Jewish Studies at the American Hebrew Academy.

It all came down to the money.

"Throughout the years, we knew the academy was struggling financially. I don't think anybody knew the extent it was," Plotkin said.

Only about 150 students attended the academy during the 2018-2019 school year.

The 100-acre campus can fit about 400 students.

Enrollment and extensive financial trouble prompted the closure.

In the school's 2016 tax filing, FOX8 learned expenses topped $18 million, but the revenue was just shy of $5 million.

"We are highly dependent on outside funding and philanthropic dollars, which are diminishing in Jewish education and Jewish causes," Plotkin said.

Donations in 2016 dropped from nearly $3 million to less than half a million.

Students are out for the summer, but there are staff members who live on campus all year long. They now have until Sept. 15 to move.

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