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March 17. 2014 7:35PM

Waiting list long for new arts charter school in Nashua

NASHUA — Gate City Charter School for the Arts will open in September with a full house and a long waiting list.

The school held a lottery for enrollment Monday morning at Nashua Public Library, and 100 names were drawn from a pool of 227 children whose families signed up for kindergarten through grade four. According to the school’s co-founder, Karin Cevasco, who is now chairwoman of the board of trustees, parents have until May 1 to return enrollment packets, so some additional places may become available.

“We have a fluid waiting list,” said Cevasco who was pleased with the level of interest in the school, which will offer an arts-integrated curriculum that fosters expression and creative and critical thinking. Still, it was difficult to turn away any family hoping to enroll a child.

“That part is heart-breaking because we want to accommodate everyone,” she said.

Although the state Dept. of Education has approved the school’s three-year enrollment and growth plan that calls for adding grades five and six in September 2015, and grades seven and eight in 2016, interest from families with middle school children has been strong, and the board is hoping to add more classes this fall.

“We are planning to ask the state Department of Education if we can add grades five and six this year,” said Cevasco. “If that happens, we will have a separate enrollment for those grades.”

The school will be located at 591 West Hollis St., the site of the former Dartmouth-Hitchcock Pediatric Center.

“We are in the final stages of negotiating a lease,” said Cevasco who added that state rules prohibit charter schools from owning their own property during their first five years of operation.

Although Dartmouth-Hitchcock was not interested in owning and leasing the building, a group of investors and supporters of Gate City Charter School were, and they purchased the property. The board is now working with architects and technical engineers on a list of renovations.

“There are specific building codes for schools, and many of codes have been changed or added as of 2014,” said Cevasco.

The board is also now in the process of searching for a school director and hiring classroom teachers and other support staff. Despite the three years of time and energy that went into launching the school and all the work that remains to be done before September, no one is complaining.

“We’re just pleased we are able to open and offer an arts-integrated education, and that it’s been so well received,” said Cevasco.


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