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WAR, W.Va. (AP) The students in rural McDowell County start life with almost every disadvantage imaginable: deep poverty, rampant drug abuse and too few teachers.

With this as the backdrop, the West Virginia Board of Education on Wednesday is set to formally extend these schools' scope to include adult literacy, drug rehabilitation and medical care. In some cases, those programs have already been under way even before the state approves the final deal that expands the schools' ambitions in exchange for some relaxed oversight.

The effort is called Reconnecting McDowell and leaders hope it will stem decades of suffering, both physical and economic. It has lined up support from the American Federation of Teachers, telecommunications companies and churches.

If successful, the program could be a model for other troubled schools.