GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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March 12, 2013

Charter owes its creditors $135k

Two months after Gloucester’s charter school rang its final dismissal bell, the school still faces more than $100,000 of debt and owes $35,000 to lenders, mostly trustees who loaned money interest-free as the school teetered on financial ruin.

The state’s Department of Education had hoped officials would have wrapped up closing procedures and dusted the chalk off their hands by the end of February, but a hefty list of closing procedures has kept trustees busy and forced trustees to continue working to tie up loose ends, like paying off their debts.

“Members of the board have spent weeks researching options and preparing for the (asset) sale,” Trustee David Buchanan said in an email to the Times.

About $45,734 of the money Gloucester Community Arts Charter School owes is due to a legal team, Foley Hoag LLP, while another $11,175 to Central Source, a business management team that specializes in charter school management plans, according to a school invoice dated March 5 and promissory note records provided by the Board of Trustees.

Tony Blackman, the school’s former executive director, who stepped down in September in what he then called an attempt to save money in the school’s budget, could still collect about $17,605 the school owes him. That total includes about $8,438 in vacation pay and a month’s pay of about $9,167, according to the invoice.

Trustees assigned priority of their dig out of debt on first repaying the promissory notes, each promissory note clearly stated.

”Funds will be used to repay the loans as a priority above other creditors,” the promissory notes read.

The handful of promissory notes reflects contributions from the school’s trustees, totaling $20,000. And the charter school building’s landlord, Peter M. “Mick” Lafata, appears as the lender on one $15,000 promissory note. All of the six notes are listed as interest free loans that were used on an emergency basis to pay employee salaries and wages, and were expected to be repaid with state funds.

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