GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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November 27, 2012

Update: Charter decision due in December; ‘revocation’ on the table

LAWRENCE — State Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester said today that the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School will likely carry through the rest of the current school year.

But a decision regarding the school’s long-term future will be forthcoming in December, he added, reiterating he has deep concerns regarding the school’s ”viability,” and suggesting his recommendation could include “revocation” of its charter.

Chester’s comments came during a meeting of the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and came on the heels of a damning site visit report from a Department of Education team that visited the Gloucester charter school last month.

“It’s not just the report on conditions that is alarming me,” Chester said. “they are struggling in virtually all aspects. At this point in their development level, they are at a place in their third year that we might expect to see in a first-year school.

“Revocation,” he said, “is very clearly in my realm of possibilities for my recommendation.”

The state’s BESE is next slated to meet Dec. 18, though it was not certain the Gloucester decision will be made at that session.

Chester’s comments also came after state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante this morning called upon the state’s elementary and secondary ed board to take steps toward closing down Gloucester’e charter school, which opened in September 2010 after founders were granted a charter in February 2009. School officials, said they believe they can still move the school and its programs forward.

Ferrante, addressing the board during the public comment period of this morning’s special and extended board meeting, cited word of the $75,000 loan extended to the charter without any signoff from the school’s Board of Trustees as one more problem showing the flawed operation of the school, and the financial impact it is having on the Gloucester Public School District.

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