GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

September 20, 2013

Former charter offers bright new start for preschool

City's preschool opens in former charter facility

By Marjorie Nesin
Staff Writer

---- — Into classrooms painted spring shades of yellow, green and purple, Gloucester’s preschoolers scampered at the start of their school year last week.

The 80 some little ones who attend either half-day or full-day preschool in the city’s public preschool adjusted quickly to their new spot at 2 Blackburn Drive, having attended an open house the day before the school’s opening.

But officials held a second open house Thursday to celebrate the successful move from the former Fuller School building into the Blackburn Industrial Park facility that had housed the former Gloucester Community Arts Charter School.

“It’s a chance for us to celebrate a little bit, congratulate ourselves on taking a step forward and creating a nice environment for our kids,” Superintendent Richard Safier said at Thursday afternoon’s festivities.

After the city agreed to rent the 21,290-square-foot building for $240,000 per year on a three-year lease, the school staff rushed to move in by the start of their school year on Sept. 10.

Director Ann-Marie Jordan led a group at the open house through classrooms decorated with pictures and interactive carpets, toys, learning games and knee high chairs tucked into the tiniest plastic tables.

The teachers, she said, had gathered a week before the start of school, packed up their belongings and relocated and redecorated at the new school site.

“It’s just a great space for us,” Jordan said. “The staff did amazing work pulling it all together in a short amount of time.”

The building now hosts five classrooms, two designated for special needs classroom, along with rooms for occupational and physical therapy.

Debbie Kelley, a teacher who works with special needs students within the preschool said she has enjoyed working in the building.

“The air is good here and the environment is inviting,” Kelley said.

Mayor Carolyn Kirk, who stopped by the open house, added that the kids “deserve” the “nice, clean, safe,” environment that the building offers.

Kirk’s administration had signed the lease on the building in mid-August. That move came after the School Committee declared the Fuller School Building as a surplus facility.

School administrators will join the children at the building early next month, with offices already designated for them.

The school buses are scheduled to relocate from Fuller to the O’Maley Innovation Middle School.

Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at mnesin@gloucestertimes.com.