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December 19, 2012

Charter surrenders

Leaders of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School agreed to forfeit their charter at the end of June 2013, and the state, in turn, will fund the school with monthly payments and retain the privilege to shut down the facility if the state education commissioner determines that the health, safety or education of the school’s students is “at immediate risk.”

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously Tuesday in support of Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester’s motion at the board’s meeting in Malden, accepting the charter school’s surrender and agreeing to waive procedures that would normally require the state to provide payments quarterly to the school rather than the new monthly payment.

The surrender of the charter, after what will be just three years of operation, was tentatively approved Monday night at a meeting of the school’s Board of Trustees.

The decision was necessary, said Chairman James Caviston.

”So many people are really disappointed, but the option to fight wasn’t there,” said Caviston. “The state said work with us and we’ll work with you...the real heart of this decision was to do what’s best for the children and the families.”

The charter trustees had been battling along and feeling more confident about their financial standing, with a lenient landlord willing to help and a local bank granting the school a high line of credit. But, since the commissioner announced his Dec. 7 intent to revoke the school’s charter, about 10 charter students have relocated to other schools, leaving the enrollment at about 116 students, Caviston estimated. And, when the charter board told the bank of the potential revocation, the unidentified bank pulled out on the credit deal, leaving the school with little choice but to cooperate with the state, according to Caviston.

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