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Another Meeting In Benton Harbor Focusing On How To Keep The High School Open

Justin Hicks/WVPE

The Benton Harbor Area School Board held a special meeting Monday night to discuss a plan to keep the city’s high school open.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration says Benton Harbor schools are $18-million in debt and could run out of money next year. She says the high school needs to shut down to save money. 

The district’s school board says it has an alternate plan, which it will formally submit to the governor on Wednesday. 

Roosevelt Bell is a resident who spoke. He says the parts of the plan that have been made public are not specific enough. 

“It’s got to be a solid, concrete plan together, so that they can trust us enough to stay open," Bell said

Board members say they have a more detailed plan to discuss with the governor. But they are asking the state to help with the district’s debt. 

The governor’s office has said the high school must close, or the entire district could be dissolved. 

Joseph Taylor is Vice President of the Benton Harbor Area School Board of Education. He says he doesn’t know what will happen if the governor’s office rejects the district’s plan. 

“The governor only gave us one week. So we take in what we take in, and we’ll see from there, right? We’re not - We don’t have a crystal ball. We just have our hearts set to save our school district,” Taylor said.

Taylor says the board recently refinanced its debt, which will save the district money.

Tuesday Benton Harbor Mayor, Marcus Muhammad, will be in Lansing to speak with the NAACP at the Black Legislative Caucus about Benton Harbor High School. 

Meanwhile, the resignation of the district's Superintendent Robert Herrera was accepted Monday in a move giving the school board more power.




Dustin Dwyer is a reporter for a new project at Michigan Radio that will look at improving economic opportunities for low-income children. Previously, he worked as an online journalist for Changing Gears, as a freelance reporter and as Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Before he joined Michigan Radio, Dustin interned at NPR's Talk of the Nation, wrote freelance stories for The Jackson Citizen-Patriot and completed a Reporting & Writing Fellowship at the Poynter Institute.
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