GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Letters/My View

August 10, 2013

Letter: Writer using revisionist history on charter school

To the editor:

In his column this past week (the Times, Monday Aug. 6), Gordon Baird took issue with my assertion that the presence of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School impacted the decision by the district to declare the Fuller School as surplus property, a fact that is well documented.

Additionally the column contained a number of errors and poorly drawn conclusions.

I understand his effort to spin a more positive version of events surrounding the GCACS than reality supports, but it serves no one to have a re-visioned history on the record.

Mr. Baird balks at my characterization of him as “an architect” of the school. To be fair, I have no direct knowledge of his actual contribution to the development of the GCACS other than his name appearing in the original Nov. 14, 2008, application submitted to the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

He resigned in December 2012 at the school’s most critical moment, right before it collapsed in January 2013. If he wasn’t an architect, he certainly was significantly involved for nearly the entirety of the school’s existence.

Mr. Baird states that the charter “hadn’t taken dime-one from the city yet because the state pays for the set-up and implementation phase over three years.” I believe this is incorrect.

While the actual dollar figures will have been adjusted to reflect the substantially disappointing enrollment, the Department of Local Services “cherry sheets” clearly document that about $2 million in funding was slated to be diverted from Gloucester’s local aid to the GCACS during fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2013. (For full documentation: http://1.usa.gov/HBcvM1 )

The state does pay 100 percent of the cost of the first year of the school. However the reimbursement scheme, designed to lessen but not eliminate the financial burden on host districts, plunges significantly in the second year and for four more years after that.

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