|For Immediate Release|
|Friday, October 1, 2010|
|Contact:||Heidi Guarino 781-338-3106 or JC Considine 781-338-3112|
BESE Votes to Place Gloucester Community Arts Charter School on Probation
School Must Meet Conditions by December 21, 2010
MALDEN - The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously (7-0) on Friday to place the recently-opened Gloucester Community Arts Charter School (GCACS) on probation through December 21, 2010. Next steps will be determined at that time, when Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester reports to the Board on the school's progress in meeting the conditions.
Commissioner Chester recommended placing the school on probation following repeated construction-related issues that delayed opening day by more than three weeks, findings by the Attorney General's Office and allegations by the Inspector General's Office that the school violated state laws regarding procurement and construction of its facilities, a significant decline in enrollment, and the departure of the school's principal.
The charter school opened on September 23, 2010, one day before its charter would have expired. Prior to the opening, Commissioner Chester strongly urged the school's board of trustees not to open the charter school in light of the serious problems that had been identified, questions about its viability, and potential disruption to the students and their families.
"Anyone who thinks I feel good about the current circumstances at this school is seriously misreading me," Commissioner Chester said. "It is because I continue to have concerns about GCACS that we are putting the school on a very short leash. With the conditions of probation in place, the school's board of trustees and administration now need to better manage the business of the school going forward."
"The Board's goal tonight was to reach a resolution that meets the needs of the community of Gloucester and the children involved," said Board Chair Maura Banta. "Tonight's decision gives the school clear direction and places it under the close supervision of the Department during this probationary period."
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will closely monitor the school's progress over the next several months and Commissioner Chester will report back to the Board on the school's progress in meeting the conditions of its probation at their December 21, 2010 meeting. Based on the progress of GCACS in meeting the conditions imposed in connection with its probation, and in alleviating the causes of its probation, Commissioner Chester will recommend further action as appropriate.
The terms of probation are:
- By November 24, 2010, GCACS must obtain approval by the Attorney General's Office (AGO) of a compliance plan addressing the school's violations of state laws regarding procurement and construction of its facilities.
- By October 15, 2010, GCACS must address directly with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) the procurement of a contract with FHO Partners LLC and the procurement of a lease with Cape Ann Medical Office Building, LLC. GCACS must provide to the Charter School Office a copy of all such communications to and from the OIG within a reasonable period of time, and no later than 48 hours after such communications are sent or received.
- GCACS must register for and participate in the Charter School Procurement program offered by the Office of the Inspector General in November 2010.
- GCACS must register for and participate in the first available program offered by the Office of the Inspector General for the Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official Program, specifically for Public Contracting Overview, Supplies and Services Contracting, and Design and Construction Contracting.
- By October 15, 2010, GCACS must submit to the Charter School Office an updated budget and cash flow statement for fiscal year 2011, reflecting the number of enrolled students as of October 1, 2010. GCACS must also submit its October 1 SIMS report no later than October 15, 2010. GCACS must submit additional updates as required by the Charter School Office.
- On or before October 8, 2010, GCACS must submit to the Charter School Office an updated school leadership plan, identifying how the duties previously assigned to the "director of education," will be managed during the current year.
- On or before October 8, 2010, GCACS must submit a revised school calendar and a transportation plan to the Charter School Office for approval, after adoption by the school's board of trustees.
- GCACS must establish and provide to the Charter School Office a schedule through at least December 2010 of regular meetings of its board of trustees to occur no less frequently than every other week.
- By November 24, 2010, to strengthen its membership, the board of trustees of GCACS must recruit and submit to the Charter School Office for approval new members with expertise in public administration, finance, real estate, and law. GCACS must notify the Charter School Office within a reasonable period of time but in any event no later than 48 hours after a member of the board of trustees resigns or otherwise leaves the school's board of trustees.
- The board of trustees and school leadership of GCACS must participate in trainings regarding the state ethics law, the public records law, and the open meeting law. By November 24, 2010, GCACS must provide to the Charter School Office an outline of that training, the identity and expertise of the trainers, and the records of attendance.
- GCACS promptly and effectively must communicate with the Charter School Office regarding any and all significant matters within a reasonable period of time but in any event no later than 48 hours after the occurrence.
- GCACS must report all changes in staff to the Charter School Office within a reasonable period of time of knowledge of the change but in any event no later than 48 hours after knowledge of the change.