Amistad America's contract with Ocean Classroom Foundation of Maine to expire

Amistad America announced Tuesday that its contract with the soon-to-be-defunct Ocean Classroom Foundation of Maine will expire Aug. 31, at which point it will resume independent management of the schooner.

Since November 2012, Amistad America has paid Ocean Classroom Foundation $5,000 a month to help manage the ship.

"This model provided Amistad with crewing efficiency, economies of scale and marine operations expertise," Amistad America Executive Director Hanifa Washington said in a statement Tuesday.

She added the contract "has been overwhelmingly successful and we at Amistad America are saddened by OCF's 20 years of programming coming to an end."

Washington said that in June, Amistad America and Ocean Classroom Foundation extended their cooperative service contract until Aug. 31.

Ocean Classroom Foundation, which is headed by former Amistad America Executive Director Greg Belanger, said last week that it is ceasing operations after 20 years because it can longer afford to fix its three ships and pay off a $2.2 million mortgage.

Meanwhile, state officials have said they expect a state audit of how financially troubled Amistad America spent $8 million in state funds to be completed within days.

- Joe Wojtas

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