After five more hours of closed-door Saturday-morning negotiations, the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School’s executive director still does not have contract for the 2012-2013 school year that begins in five weeks.
The charter school’s Board of Trustees met beginning at 7:30 a.m. today, with another round of contract talks with Executive Director Tony Blackman dominating the agenda.
But while the trustees tweaked a few state-required documents as part of their overall meeting, the panel did not make a final decision on Blackman’s contract despite an executive session that ran nearly three hours beyond the meeting’s initially projected and posted 10 a.m. closing time.
The session marked the third one the board has held to negotiate Blackman’s contract since May, with talks having extended to more than 16 hours overall.
“We’re trying to do a very thorough job,” said Board Chairman James Caviston.
Caviston wouldn’t discuss why the board did not reach a decision regarding an approval or other action on Blackman’s contract. But he said the board would take it up again for what he hopes is the last executive session next Saturday.
The trustees will also meet on Wednesday to give their final approval to the charter’s annual report, accountability plan, enrollment plan, and budget. Those documents are due to the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by the end of that day, Aug. 1.
The latest talks also came as the board reviews a petition filed by a group of parents and others calling for a formal review of Blackman’s time at the school’s helm, though Caviston had indicated the petition would not be part of today’s discussions.
In the petition, signed by 29 people, including parents, some of their relatives, other residents and seven teachers — who signed on only by numbers, as in “Teacher #1,” not by name — the petitioners said that Blackman and the school’s leadership had been “inconsistent at best,” and at worst “blatantly incompetent” over the past two years.
A letter laying a list of more specific allegations — including child endangerment, an alleged misuse of federal funds, and other concerns — at Blackman’s feet was attached to the petition, though in an earlier meeting, some parents who signed on said they were not aware of that document connected with the petition itself.
Blackman’s attorney, meanwhile, has sent a letter to the signing parents, demanding either documentation of those claims or a retraction. If neither was given, that letter stated, Blackman will consider pursuing legal action against the signers.
Board members met Saturday in a large, green-walled room in the charter school, with eight of the nine trustees attending — Dave Buchanan, Gordon Baird, Vice Chairman Art Beane, Jay Featherstone, Chairman Caviston, Aaron Cilluffo, Ira Yavner, and Blackman, who still maintains a seat on the board.
Susan Hoague was absent; Blackman participated in other aspects of the meeting, but left the negotiating session after about a half hour and remained outside the negotiating room.
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Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.