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Virginia Governor Considers Saving Jefferson-Houston School

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Alexandria school leaders are planning to demolish Jefferson-Houston, the city's lowest-performing school.
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Alexandria school leaders are planning to demolish Jefferson-Houston, the city's lowest-performing school.

The playground swings squeak in the distance at Jefferson-Houston School in Alexandria, which has failed to meet performance standards 10 out of the last 11 years. Now state leaders are threatening a takeover because, they say it's a failing school.

Israel Richardson attended the elementary school in the late 1990s. He says the record of failure at Jefferson-Houston is justification for a state takeover.

"Honestly, if the school has been struggling for 11 years, I wouldn't have a problem with, you know, the state coming in and taking over," says Richardson. "That might be the best thing for the school, you know?

Alexandria school board member Bill Campbell lives two blocks away. He acknowledges that the school has been a failure for more than a decade, but he's not sure that state can do any better than the local government.

"I respect that folks say, hey, we need to do something different, and I absolutely agree with that," he says. "I just don't agree that it's having it being taken over by the state and some nebulous leadership group."

Christain Braunlich, a member of the Virginia Board of Education, says the state has an obligation to step in. "You have an entire generation of kids that have been failed by the Alexandria city school system.

Last week, the House of Delegates approved Gov. Bob McDonnell's Opportunity Educational Institution bill, which would create a new board that would focus on turning around the long-troubled school.

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