The Gloucester Community Arts Charter School moves into its third school year this fall and expects between 180 and 200 students enrolled kindergarten through eighth grade on opening day.
Executive Director Tony Blackman said Thursday the school, which is adding a kindergarten and first grade to its current Grades 2-8, in the coming school year has a state verified pre-enrollment of 212 students.
Last year, the school added second grade and opened with 135 students — with a verified pre-enrollment of 196, and it is in the final weeks of the current school year with 132.
The school hasn't yet set its full fiscal 2013 budget, and isn't required to have one until August.
But the Board of Trustees finance subcommittee projected the school could run a budget of $2.2 million, an increase of some $500,000 from the current year, but one depending on enrollment. Blackman said the board will approve a budget in June.
Pre-enrollment numbers, said Blackman, are a gauge of interest. They're not the exact number of students that will walk through the door in September, but they give the school and the state an idea of what to expect, he said. Charter schools receive their budget in quarterly increments, and it varies depending on enrollment.
At the moment, Blackman said the school has 66 new students already enrolled for the next school year, and 103 students expected to return — while its current eighth-graders will graduate in June.
At the moment, he said, the school has 169 verified and 34 students selected in the lottery who haven't yet completed their enrollment paperwork.
"As with all public schools, enrolled students are considered enrolled until they indicate otherwise," Blackman said.
He expects enrollment to fluctuate during the summer as students continue to apply. He expects the budget to be set at a maximum of 180 students.
Blackman said the school currently has a wait list for students in kindergarten, and first grade is about halfway full. He expects both to fill up for next year.
"We basically will be admitting the first class that will have done all of their formative education to that point in the culture of GCACS," he said, "It's exciting, really."
At 180 students, the school could run a budget of $2.25 million. $2.05 million of that from tuition, $100,000 from Federal grants, $75,000 from donations and $20,000 from nutrition reimbursements. At 165 students the school would operate on a budget of $2.24 million, $1.9 million of that tuition
All charter schools, Blackman said, receive Federal start-up funding for three years, staring the year before students attend the school. This school year is the last year the charter school is eligible for that grant funding, pegged at about $160,000.
Blackman said he figures the school's recently established 501(c)3 foundation will be able to raise money to compensate, hence the $75,000 in contributions, up from $1,500 from the current budget numbers.
"We feel it's a reasonable sum to put in there," he said.
The current budget plan calls for the school to increase its personnel costs next year, from $992,567 to $1,265,250.
Blackman said the school is hiring two general education teachers for kindergarten-Grade 1, several special education inclusion specialists, an instructional coach, school counselor, and new Special Education director.
The former director left to pursue other opportunities in February, said Blackman. The school's three special education instructors managed the administrative functions as well for the remainder of the school year.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.