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Jefferson Nears Deal With Somerset Academy To Run District Schools

Jefferson County Elementary School

The Jefferson County School District will be back before the state board of education Wednesday. It may have found a charter school operator to take over its struggling school system, and is a step closer to becoming Florida's first charter district.


Jefferson will present a charter school application from Somerset academy—a charter school with locations in Florida, Nevada and Texas. The state earlier gave Jefferson an ultimatum: convert to a charter school district or face the closure of its schools. That came after state education officials expressed mounting frustration with the state of the school system, which is the worst performing in Florida.

In its application, Somerset says it will pay teachers seven percent more than what they can make in surrounding counties, and fund competitive health benefits and a four percent 401-k match. The charter company has also published a rigorous curriculum outline that includes AP courses. And it says it will actively seek to reintegrate students attending Jefferson’s alternative school, back into the traditional school setting. The charter school boasts high graduation and college acceptance rates in its other schools, as well.

If approved, Jefferson would become the state’s first charter school district.

View Somerset's presentation to the Jefferson County School Board here.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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