Leaders of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School agreed to forfeit their charter at the end of June 2013, and the state, in turn, will fund the school with monthly payments and retain the privilege to shut down the facility if the state education comissioner determines that the health, safety or education of the school’s students is “at immediate risk.”
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously in support of Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester’s motion at the board’s meeting this morning in Malden, accepting the charter school’s surrender and agreeing to waive procedures that would normally require the state to provide payments quarterly to the school rather than the new monthly payment.
Chester had expressed support for keeping the charter school open until the close of the year, in order to avoid disrupting students.
“I was recommending it originally,” Chester said of the school-end revocation date. “I don’t think it warrants displacing students halfway through the school year.”
Still, said Chester, the state holds onto the ability to perform an emergency revocation of the charter – though that permission is meant to prevent any major issues, not to be used as a threat or leverage.
“Should things end up prior to the end of the school year that the school’s no longer functional, I would like the ability to move expeditiously in that kind of a situation,” Chester said.
The state will base its payments to the charter school on the number of days the school educates students under its charter and the actual enrollment numbers at the school. The more frequent payments allow the school more immediate financial support and allow the state more oversight and tuition payments based on precise, monthly figures.
The surrender of the charter, after what will be just three years of operation, was approved last night at a meeting of the Board of Trustees.
Chester was poised to follow through on his Dec. 7 recommendation that the school’s charter be revoked, and sources had told the Times he would likely push for an “emergency” revocation that could have shut down the school almost immediately because the trustees are no longer able to cover the school’s operating costs.
Sen. Minority Leader Bruce Tarr spoke during a public comment period of the meeting, urging the state board to help Gloucester take the next steps into the city’s academic future.
“I come to you with a tremendous amount of remorse over the path we have traveled together,” said Tarr. “Gloucester now enters a new era in its educational life, and I would hope that the board and the department and the secretary would take the time to work in any way possible — including providing resources to help with the transition that is about to ensue.”
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Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.