SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

July 10, 2014

Marblehead Community Public Charter School looks to buy its building

MARBLEHEAD — The Marblehead Community Public Charter School got a green light Thurssday on a plan to borrow $4.25 million to purchase its building on Lime Street. But they’re still not at the end of the road.

No objections were raised at a public hearing before the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency. A quasi-public organization, the agency’s board is selected by the governor. It matches entities like the school with a source of tax-free bonds, according to spokeswoman Kelsey Abbruzzese.

“The board has approved it,” she said, “but it has not been closed yet.” The sort of hearing scheduled on Thurssday, while open to the public, generally amounts to a formality, she added. No member of the public appeared.

School officials refused to discuss their plans, despite multiple requests for comment.

According to documents filed by the school, the money would purchase the land and the building at 11 Lime St., where the school has operated since its founding in 1995. The total cost of the purchase is estimated at $4,325,000. Closing the deal is similar to closing on a home loan and still involves lots of paperwork, Abbruzzese said.

According to the Department of Education, under the state’s charter school statute, the school must get permission to incur any debt when its repayment exceeds the duration of the school’s charter. Loans are approved on the recommendation of the commissioner.

“At this point,” the school has not brought anything to us,” the department’s spokeswoman, Jacqueline Reis, said.

A school task force was authorized to begin negotiations for the purchase at a board meeting in September of 2012, according to the minutes of the trustees. Discussions also included the possibility of finding another location.

The charter school, which teaches kids in grades four to eight, has long been a subject of contention in Marblehead where some complain it isn’t needed, given the high quality of the town’s traditional public schools. Further, funds are subtracted from those schools and given to the charter school according to the number of Marblehead students in attendance there.

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