Benton Harbor School Board Approves Draft Plan for District

Jul 23, 2019

Benton Harbor High School
Credit Justin Hicks / WVPE Public Radio

The Benton Harbor School board is sending a draft plan to the state that includes efforts to boost student outcomes and pay down the districts debt without closing any schools.

The plan is very similar to the partnership agreement with the state that Benton Harbor was under before. 

Interim Superintendent Trish Robinson said the district hopes to have a working plan by the time school starts in September.

“If we want to get the message out to parents that we’re going to be here for more than one year, we need to have something solid. Something solidified by both sides.”

The draft plan includes specific benchmarks for student achievement based on several different test scores. It also lays out benchmarks to recruit new teachers and turn long-term substitutes into credentialed educators.

For the debt the district is asking for state help to fund teacher salary bumps, training and experts to help the school turn around.

The plan also includes a debt elimination bond that would levy one mil on district homeowners. That money would be used specifically for payments.

 

Board Vice President Joseph Taylor said the board hopes voters approve the bond, so everyone has a stake in the district’s recovery.

“We can all commit to something right along with the state. We don’t know if it’s going to work or not. But it’s a plan, you always have to have plans. Where you’re in debt you just have to work out your debt as you go.”

The board is sending the plan to the governor, department of Education and Treasurer. They said they hope it’s a starting point for negotiations. Taylor and Robinson said the next step is likely mediation and negotiations over changes between the district and the state.