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Chartered: Jefferson County's Journey As The State's First Charter School District

Jefferson Somerset students along with school board member  ___ interact in this undated photo.
Jefferson Somerset Academy
Jefferson County Schools

In 2017, Jefferson County became the state's first charter school district. The move came amid pressure from the Florida Department of Education, and followed a decade of poor student performance and financial struggles for the small, rural district of fewer than 800 students.

The district consolidated its elementary school into its middle-high school campus and closed its alternative school. It hired charter school operator Somerset Academy to take over, and most of the teachers and administrators were fired, leaving the number of actual district officials to 2.5; the Superintendent, a secretary and a part-time aid. 

In the first year, Jefferson saw it's school grade jump from an F to a B, before later being revised down to a C. Last year, it earned a D-grade. This report, from Florida Public Radio station WLRN, takes a closer look at what happened behind the scenes in the runup to that conversation, and how it's working for students and their families.