By Marjorie Nesin
---- — After a tumultuous journey over the past two months, Gloucester Community Arts Charter School officials voted unanimously tonight to close the school on Jan. 11.
Trustees had expected to keep the school open through the end of the school year, in a bargain with the state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. But declining enrollment resulted in reduced money flow from the state to the school, which led to a lower line of credit from outside lenders, according to school trustees.
"With no line of credit and with possible decreasing enrollment, the numbers started going against us very quickly," said James Caviston, president of the school's board. "As time went on, we suddenly found ourselves with shifting sand under our feet."
Charter trustees said the dip in enrollment was due in part to the state's threat to close the school after just three years instead of giving the school the normal five-year incubation period.
Trustee David Buchanan said trustees kept stability in mind when making the early closure decision.
"We're in a position right now where we either see our program dismembered ... or we maintain our commitment to our staff and the kids and the safety of those kids, and make a responsible decision of closing the school altogether, intact, with some kind of dignity," Buchanan said.
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Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.