GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

October 10, 2012

Blackman's deal has 3 months' severance

By Steven Fletcher Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — The separation agreement negotiated between Tony Blackman and the trustees of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School call for the outgoing executive director to receive three months’ severance pay at his $110,000 salary, while the school will cover his present benefits, including health insurance, until Jan. 31, 2013.

According to his separation agreement, obtained by the Times through a public records request, Blackman leaves the school on Oct. 20, with the school’s Board of Trustees and Director of Education Beth Delforge set to handle Blackman’s duties for the rest of the year. But, before he goes, the agreement states, he has several projects to finish.

He’s required to finish preparations for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s site visit, slated for next Tuesday. The agreement also requires him to prepare the administrative team to take over after he leaves, and continue fund-raising efforts. He’ll also remain on the school’s Board of Trustees until April.

Blackman and the charter’s Board of Trustees announced his resignation in late September. The agreement states that the board had agreed, in principal, to a multi-year renewal of Blackman’s contract. But when the school’s student enrollment came in well below budget expectations, Blackman proposed cutting his own position to keep the school’s staffing and educational program intact. He resigns after running the charter school for two years.

Since the charter school’s budget is based on a per-pupil allocation, the school faced a nearly $600,000 budget cut when enrollment came in at 124 students as of Oct. 1, down 56 from a budget, based on 180 enrolled students, and down by 78 students from the pre-enrollment count of 212.

By cutting his own position, which saves $80,000, and by making other adjustments and pursuing donations, Blackman had said the school can close the gap.

“The parties agree that the least disruptive and most cost effective way to maintain the full delivery of the educational program and the professional staff who deliver it as a first priority would be to reduce administrative costs,” the agreement states. He did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

After Blackman leaves, the separation agreement states that he will receive three months severance pay, at his $110,000 salary. Blackman, according to the agreement, will also defer the last month’s severance pay and is unused vacation day buyback until October 2013.

The separation agreement also contains a “non-disparagement” clause covering both parties.

With Blackman set to leave before the end of the month, the trustees have assembled a plan to keep the school running.

The schools executive director, said Board Chairman James Cavison, has three responsibilities. The position handles financial management, daily school operations, and advocacy. He said the school will work with consultant Central Source on the finances, and the board will support Delforge in running the day-to-day operations of the school.

“We think we’ve got the right pieces in place, but it will be some trial and error for sure,” Caviston said.

Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or sfletcher@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.