GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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January 4, 2013

Parents aim to ease charter children's adjustment

The Gloucester Community Arts Charter School’s unexpected early closure, scheduled for next Friday, Jan. 11, has left parents grasping for answers and reaching for help, unsure of how to break the news to their children and anxious at how their children, especially those with special needs, will adjust to the sudden change.

Frank Gentile has begun wondering and worrying and grasping for a new schooling solution for his son, who has Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD, which means the eighth-grader has trouble acclimating to change and difficulty understanding how to react in social situations. Gentile waited to tell Jordan about the school’s predicament until he was certain the charter would be closing, knowing Jordan would grow anxious and stressed about the coming change.

“From a parent’s eye, it’s really got our stomach in knots,” Gentile said. “It breaks my heart to see him obsess about this. This is just expediting some of his fears.”

Parents had expected the school to remain open through June, after the charter’s board made a December deal with the state to receive state funding monthly then give up the charter at the end of the school year. But, enrollment began to drop soon after the deal was struck, and Wednesday the state told school officials the charter school would receive no state funding for January, causing the trustees to pick Jan. 11 as the closing date, according to James Caviston, chairman of the school’s trustees.

The original June closing date had been chosen to avoid disrupting students’ academic year, and that extra time and smoother transition would have made a world of difference for parents like himself, Gentile said. Gentile said the previously scheduled closing would have created time for he and his son to visit the public high school before enrolling, allowing Jordan to meet the students and acclimate to the school.

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