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December 27, 2012

Schools seek cash for exiting charter kids

The Gloucester School District has requested their own chunk of cash from the city’s pot of leftover fiscal 2012 dollars, seeking help not only with repairs and upgrades, but also for “unanticipated special education expenses and plus tutoring,” with the school noting that “coming changes” could increase the district’s financial needs.

When the School Committee notes district changes, it’s referring in part to the closing of Gloucester Community Arts Charter School’s closing, slated for the end of June, according to Superintendent Richard Safier. The public schools have taken on 14 charter school students since the start of November, and have spoken with a handful of other students regarding transfers in the past week, he said.

Safier and the School Committee produced a prioritized list of requests totaling about $691,000 of the city’s $4.8 million in so called “free cash,” or unbudgeted funds. Of that amount, the school committee is requesting $248,418 for the school’s top priority, unanticipated tutoring and special education expenses.

“The city needs to be open to the idea that we might need to make some additional requests,” Safier said. “If students come back, then we will be seeking to integrate them into our programs.”

Faltering MCAS scores in the math category were one of the factors in the charter school’s demise, causing some to insist that students returning to the Gloucester public schools from the charter would require tutoring and extra help. While Safier declined to comment specifically on charter school students, he said the public schools need to be able to cater to all students they acquire.

“If a student comes into the district and enrolls and we find that their reading levels are low or their math skills, we need to find a way to provide remediation for them, and we will do that,” Safier said.

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