GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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November 27, 2012

State board will mull charter 'revocation'

Comissioner: 'Revocation' on table at next meeting

The state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education discussed only rendering a future decision regarding the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School Tuesday, but the state’s commissioner made clear that when, that decision time comes next month, “revocation (of the school’s charter) is very clearly in (the) realm of possibilities.”

After an October site review of the school — and a damning report citing low MCAS scores in math, a continuing fiscal struggle, subpar enrollment and high teacher turnover — Commissioner Mitchell D. Cheste said he was reconsidering his initial decision to grant the school five years to pull everything together and “subject” the charter school’s students to more time within the “struggling” school.

“It’s not just the report on conditions that alarms me, it’s some of the additional analysis,” said Chester, speaking at Tuesday’s special meeting of the state’s BESE.

“In virtually every aspect of the school operation they are struggling,” he said.

If the board decides to revoke the school’s charter, said Chester, the school will likely remain open through the end of the school year, so as not to interrupt the students’ learning.

“I can’t overstate how concerned I am about where this school is at this point,” Chester said. “At this point in their development cycle, they’re at a place in the third year that we might expect to see in a first-year school.”

The board will convene again in mid-December, and at that time decide on the next course of action for the charter after receiving a recommendation from the commissioner.

James Caviston, the chair of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School’s Board of Trustees, said he was blown away by the commissioner’s comments, and was “very disappointed” with the outcome of the meeting.

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