BOSTON (AP) — State Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester plans to temporarily take charge of the Lawrence public schools on Jan. 1 while he continues to look for a receiver to run the troubled system.

The Massachusetts Board of Education approved a state takeover of the city’s schools last month, citing chronic declines in student performance, a low graduation rate and poor management.

Chester said Tuesday that he will not be able to meet his original goal of selecting a receiver by Jan. 1 to oversee the schools, so he plans to assume the powers of the receiver for a “limited timeframe” after the first of the year. Those duties would include appointing people to carry out the day-to-day functions of the school department and signing off on any major decisions.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.