Officials with the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School and the state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education may see it as a vote of confidence, so to speak.
But the fact that the state board and the Department of Education see no reason to step in and move up a planned September review of Gloucester's public, independent school isn't doing the school any favors as it prepares for its third year — and, arguably, its most important — in the fall.
There is clearly a context to Executive Director Tony Blackman's admitted decision to not bring back Head of School Jody Ziebarth for another year. But that doesn't explain the decision to eliminate the principal's position and restructure the school's administrative format without getting open, public approval from the Board of Trustees. And the lack of any mention of any of this in the board's minutes raises troubling new concerns that the board is again failing to operate with transparency and accountability to the state — or, worse, to the school's parents.
Indeed, the state Department of Education's apparent sense that this and other staff departures and program changes at the charter school this year doesn't carry any sense of urgency virtually promises that too many questions may remain unanswered before the new school year begins. And this is a critical year for Gloucester Community Arts Charter School, which is completing its K-8 grade configuration by adding a first grade and kindergarten.
Some questions are inevitable over the summer, with the charter school's second round of Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test scores not due until September, anyway. And by all precedent, the Department of Education and Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester is willing to give the school a five-year run before taking any steps to pull the plug if problems persist.
But by not addressing the financial, staffing and program issues that have swirled around the school this spring, the state is again ignoring its oversight duty to provide parents and residents the answers they need when they need to make key decisions about their children's education. That's a shame.