, Gloucester, MA

January 16, 2013

Letter: Setting forward course for city education

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

As many readers are aware, Gloucester’s schools have been involved in the process of transitioning students from the Gloucester Arts Charter School to the Gloucester Public Schools.

I am writing this letter to assure interested parties that the process has gone well, and to publicly thank everyone involved. This includes the charter school’s board and administration, along with the Gloucester Public Schools’ principals and staff, and the parents and families most directly involved. Over the holiday vacation, I met with representatives from the charter school to discuss how to coordinate the transition. From that point forward, and under the duress of the imminent closing of their school, charter school representatives demonstrated the utmost care and concern for students and their families.

They have provided us with guidance about the transitioning students, while ensuring that the “nuts and bolts” of the enrollment process, such as the delivery of student records, were carried out in a timely and efficient manner. During the process, I have been in direct contact with Mr. Buchanan, Ms. LeForge, Dr. Beane, and Mr. Yavner from the charter school. Their assistance has been gracious, consistent and forthright.

Over the vacation, the charter school provided a roster of 99 students (student numbers only, names withheld). Since that time, 98 families have contacted the Gloucester Public Schools. Fifty-four families inquired about entering our elementary schools; 44 have been in contact with the O’Maley Innovation Middle School. As of Monday, Jan. 14, all 54 elementary students are enrolled. Likewise, all 44 students have entered the middle school. Fourteen of the elementary enrollees requested intradistrict choice, and we have been able to honor those requests.

This amount of work, done in so short a period of time, is an exceptional demonstration of the efforts of administrators and staff to effect a smooth transition for each and every family.

Our standard enrollment procedures have been in place for some time, and they have enabled us to manage the volume of inquiries over a short period of time. With those procedures in place, staff could focus on the most important aspect of the transition, namely, openly and warmly engaging students and families at a time when, no doubt, many were feeling duress. The process could not have gone much smoother.

We are now entering the next phase of the transition. Students will be seeing their friends from the charter in a new environment, they will be reacquainting themselves with friends from their former elementary schools, and they will be making new friends as well. Assimilating our newcomers into the classrooms is a priority. In addition, we have asked the PTO’s to reach out to parents. I will send a welcome letter to parents and guardians as well, along with an invitation to meet as a group. And principals will be checking in with families throughout the course of the rest of the year. The course is now set. Going forward, what needs to be done is for all of us — parents, administrators, staff, and the community at-large — to continue on with the growth and education of our students.



Superintendent, Gloucester Public Schools