, Gloucester, MA


January 10, 2013

Editorial:Charter kids, parents deserved better than sudden shutdown

Wednesday’s final collapse — and that’s just what it was — of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School rings down a painful and shameful final curtain on a three-year venture aimed at helping many students and their families find educational success where many had not in the past.

While the school’s pending insolvency had clearly signaled the end of the line last month, it was hard to believe yesterday that the school’s Board of Trustees — and, perhaps even more so, the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — could not find some means of an orderly transition rather than notifying parents by Tuesday night email that they should get their kids into another school, pronto.

As we noted earlier this week, the closing of the school has represented the harshest lessons in state and local political science, with the kids and their parents playing roles as pawns for far too long. But it’s frankly hard to believe that a state education department and local trustees board supposedly dedicated to children’s education could have allowed the chaos forced on parents, some of whom suddenly had to make or move up child-care arrangements for the rest of this week, with trustees voting just last week to at least extend school through this Friday.

Indeed, it should have been clear since Chester warned of a charter revocation in late November that the school would lose students virtually every day after that. That clearly put the GCACS on a fast track toward its current insolvency, with officials unable to make payroll or, as of Tuesday, apparently cover the cost of even another day’s pay.

Couldn’t the trustees, who initially cut a tentative deal with the state to at least get through the current school year, have perhaps shut down the middle school grades after Christmas break, allowing the younger children to remain in a stable environment for the rest of the year?

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