GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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November 28, 2012

Charter leaders stand by school, finances

A former teacher Wednesday depicted the Gloucester Community Art School’s finances as “desperate,” and a state site review that suggested the school’s enrollment and finances are not sound.

But local charter school officials maintained Wednesday that the school is financially viable.

State Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell D. Chester presented a largely negative site review of the school, including questioning the school’s financial vitality, at a state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting Tuesday. And, Chester said that a revocation of the school’s charter in this, its third year, was in his “realm” of possibilities for a recommendation for the state board’s December meeting.

Meanwhile, some of the school’s former teachers also called into question whether the school was actually getting by, with limited supplies, curriculum materials and technological equipment.

But, the charter school’s chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees, James Caviston, pointed Wedneday to financial improvements at the school — including the securing of a large anonymous donation before the end of the calendar year and another donation at the beginning of next year, a $200,000 line of credit granted to the school from a regional bank, and an agreement with a landlord who intends to be lenient if the school runs into financial hardship.

Caviston said those should all be reasons for the state board of education to allow the school to carry on through the five-year time frame that state officials have used as precedent.

”What is wrong with us having the five years that Chester gives everyone else?” Caviston said in a telephone interview. “People should be congratulating us on our ability to get by on such scarce resources.”

Caviston agreed with the sentiment that budgets were tight, but said the school pulled through and said is reaching a comfortable position.

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