GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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May 10, 2013

City eyes charter site for preschool

The city’s outreach for offers for a building to house the school district’s preschool, administrative offices, a preschool and the schools’ transportation department, has drawn one response — one which city school officials are considering.

That building is the former Gloucester Community Arts Charter School, and property owner Mick Lafata offered his building as the pre-school’s and offices’ new home through answering the city’s formal request for proposals, or RFP.

The approximately 22,000-square-foot building sits at 2 Blackburn Drive, with Lafata initially offering rent at a base bid of $342,878, and that price increasing 3 percent in a fourth year and another 3 percent in the fifth year of the proposed contract.

The School Committee could also choose a rental option for $420,678, which would include janitorial services and supplies, electric and gas costs, snowplowing and sanding, landscaping, water and sewer costs, and scheduled maintenance, according to Lafata’s RFP proposal.

“My place would be perfect for them,” Lafata said. “I want to do what I can to help out and make this happen.”

In a letter to the city, Lafata wrote that another preschool has inquired about renting a few of the classrooms in the former charter school, which abruptly shut down in January under state Department of Education financial pressure and the surrendering of the school’s charter by the GCACS Board of Trustees.

Lafata told the city he could arrange for the preschool and other clients to rent portions of the building if the entire area was too much for the preschool, administrators and school transportation operation, which use about 17,000 square feet in the Fuller School building.

While some School Committee members have expressed concerns about the parking at the school, Lafata wrote in his letter to the city that he could handle the requested number of buses.

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