Facing a substantial budget cut come December, the executive director of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School said he’s holding off on hiring some staffers and said he’ll reduce administrative salaries to balance the budget.
But director Tony Blackman said he will not cut any current personnel as the new school year goes forward.
The now three-year-old school opened Sept. 4 with 28 percent fewer students than the 180 students for which it had been budgeted this year, creating a potential $550,000 cut to the school’s $2.25 million budget.
Blackman told the school’s trustees at a meeting Wednesday night that the school will work off a budget based on 130 enrolled students. That, said Blackman, means the school will keep the number of classroom teachers at the level matching the needs of 130 students, and has not hired an instructional coach or filled other open administrative positions.
Blackman said that when he recognized the school enrollment was trending down toward 169 students over the summer, he decided not to hire for several positions planned for in the 180-student budget.
At full enrollment, the school would have 12 classes, two for each grade, kindergarten through Grade 8, except for grade six and seven, which was to have four classes.
At a budget of 130, the school has dropped one Grade 2-3 section, one eighth-grade section and two Grade 6-7 sections.
“When the number came in too low, we just didn’t hire,” Blackman stated.
Those cuts cover about $450,000 of the projected $550,000 cut, Blackman stated.
At the trustees meeting, Blackman said the state increased its per-head tuition rate to $11,897 this year, up from the $11,400 the school budgeted on. Blackman added that the school also expects two donations to its 501c3 Gloucester Charter Arts School foundation. Those donations, Blackman said, “are not insubstantial in size.”
“With these two things, we feel we can present an adjusted budget with some cuts adjustment to administrative overhead and without changes to our delivery of programs,” Blackman said.
The charter school receives four quarterly payments from the state, the first based of the 212 preenrollment. But board chairman James Caviston said that come the second payment in December, the state will subtract however much the pre-enrollment exceeds the school’s actual enrollment.
“This is a moving target,” Caviston said.
He said the board will review Blackman’s proposed budget adjustments at a Finance Committee meeting next week. Form there the board will finalize the new budget and send it to the state. Caviston said he’s certain the school will make it through.
“The cut this year is no worse than the cuts we have had before,” he said.
Steven Fletcher can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3455, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StevenGDT