GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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January 10, 2013

Charter abruptly shuts its doors

Fiscally strapped school abruptly shuts down yesterday

GLOUCESTER — Teachers untacked posters from walls, kids bundled in scarves waved mitten-handed good-byes to friends, and parents exchanged email addresses in the hallways of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School Wednesday as students left the building for the final time in an abrupt closure of the financially insolvent school.

The school’s Board of Trustees last week had already voted to prematurely close the school at the end of classes this Friday. But trustees sent two emails to parents Tuesday night, according to a number of parents.

One parent said the first email suggested the parents find spots for their children to start attending public schools or state approved schools as of Thursday. The next email said the school would have to close its doors Wednesday with the early dismissal after an 11:30 a.m. assembly for students.

Parents and the estimated 40 students remaining enrolled at the school gathered for the going away assembly that included presentations from kids in each grade and students pairing up to discuss what they will miss about the school, a fun experience they had during the year, and something they look forward to at their new schools.

”I’ll just miss the fact that everyone can be themselves here,” said Shannon Kelly, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at the school who will attend O’Maley Middle School beginning today.

Board of Trustees Chairman James Caviston told the Times Wednesday afternoon that a final vote by the Board of Trustees on a shutdown of the school would not come until the board met Wednesday night, but acknowledged that yesterday marked the public, independent school’s final session. With a continued declining enrollment, the school is essentially insolvent and cannot meet payroll or cover any more days’ pay for staff, according to Caviston.

At least one teacher was laid off as recently as Tuesday and several others were let go as of Sunday amid the school’s financial collapse, sources told the Times. A few teachers, some of the trustees and Head of School Beth Delforge were at the school Wednesday.

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