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October 12, 2012

Editorial: Blackman deal shows best motives

The many critics of Gloucester’s Community Arts Charter School who might have questions the motives behind Tony Blackman’s exit from the executive director’s post sure didn’t find any smoking guns within the separation agreement reached between Blackman and the school’s Board of Trustees.

Indeed, the inclusion of three months’ severance pay at his $110,000 salary, the carrying of his health insurance policy through the end of January and the other provisions spotlighted in Thursday’s Times story show a deal that’s far less generous than those reached with other administrators in either the public or private sectors – from the downright offensive package signed off by the former board of Northeast Health Systems for ousted CEO Stephen Laverty to the agreements for six months severance or more for some school and area municipal officials in the past. And it’s to Blackman’s credit that he signed off on a deal that does not include cashing in unused vacation time until more than a year from now.

Indeed, everything in the agreement points precisely to where it should — a drastic but necessary budget cut by Blackman, who eliminated his own job to help the school through another year without having to make the mid-year changes that have cost the school several key personnel in the past. That’s also borne out in his agreement to remain on the Board of Trustees and essentially carry out consulting work through a variety of “projects” after his actual Oct. 20 departure.

Above all, Blackman’s action should spur the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to finally address the problems inherent in its strict, per-pupil funding format that is based on far too preliminary enrollment data that simply comes apart when students and parents decide not to attend. Hopefully, his self-imposed ouster should be the wakeup call for the state reforms the charter funding system needs.

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