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Plan calls for charter school in troubled district

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The State Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to approve a plan calling for the operation of public education in Jefferson County to be turned over to a charter school.

Under the turnaround plan for the beleaguered district, which has struggled academically and financially for years, the district's elementary school would be merged with a combined middle-high school.

The district currently has 771 students.

That facility will be operated by a charter-school management organization.

Discussions between potential operators and the district are underway, and state officials will be involved in working out a final agreement.

"I think we have a community united behind this, because we recognize that it's just impossible for us to continue the way we've been over the last decade," Superintendent Marianne Arbulu said.

Some members of the state board expressed concerns about whether the plan would work, especially because of the coordination that will be required between the county School Board and the board that operates the charter school.

Tom Grady, a member of the state board, also noted that there appeared to be some skepticism in the community.

"Your expectations, those expectations of people in Jefferson County are what are likely to be controlling here," he said. "And I don't know how to change those expectations top-down."