Benton Harbor Area Schools

Justin Hicks / WVPE Public Radio

 

A next step has been approved in Benton Harbor on a plan with the state of Michigan to improve student and financial outcomes. The Benton Harbor Community Engagement Advisory Committee approved the draft financial and academic plan in a virtual meeting Monday night.

The Advisory Committee was created to make a plan to overhaul Benton Harbor Area Schools academics and finances. It was created after community outcry against a state plan to close the district’s high school last spring.

Deadline Extended For Benton Harbor School Survey

Jan 9, 2020
Justin Hicks/WVPE

Today the Michigan Dept. of Treasury announced on behalf of the Benton Harbor Area Schools Community Engagement Advisory Committee that more time will be given for Benton Harbor community members and resident to take a survey about the Benton Harbor Area Schools. 

The survey submission deadline has been extended to Jan. 31, 2020.

Late in May in 2019 the state announced a plan to close Benton Harbor High School which drew an outcry. That plan is now on hold as a committee studies options on moving forward.

Justin Hicks / WVPE Public Radio

 

Benton Harbor Area Schools chose Dr. Andrae Townsel as it's new superintendent Monday night

The two final candidates, Townsel and interim superintendent Patricia Robinson spent all day Monday meeting with students, teachers, administrators and community members. 

Justin Hicks / WVPE Public Radio

 

The Benton Harbor Area Schools board declined to vote Tuesday night to create an advisory committee for the district.

The advisory committee is a state plan, from the Michigan Department of Treasury. It would be made up of representatives from the state, the district and the community. 

They would be tasked with coming up with an operational plan that would pay down the district’s debt and get students back on track academically.

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.

Justin Hicks/WVPE

NEW: The state of Michigan issued the following statement in reaction to the BHAS vote last night rejecting the plan the state put forth as a tentative joint plan:

“The Benton Harbor School Board's action to vote down the resolution to put students first is a setback for Benton Harbor students, parents, and the community. By voting not to accept this proposal – which was developed with direct input from BHAS board members and attorneys – board members are sending a troubling signal to parents that they are unwilling to negotiate in good faith to address the district’s academic and financial challenges.  The governor remains committed to finding a solution that puts Benton Harbor students first.”

ORIGINAL POST:

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The Benton Harbor school board has rejected a tentative agreement that would have staved off the closing of the city's high school.

Today Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sent a letter to Benton Harbor school leaders acknowledging that she understands the Board has voted not to accept the state's proposal to close Benton Harbor High School.

Whitmer goes on to say that she believes the state proposal has merit and that "doing nothing is not an option." 

She says that "given substantial efforts by the Board to begin crafting a plan" she is looking forward to working toward a solution.

The letter goes on to say that the documents that the Benton Harbor school leaders submitted last week are being reviewed and that the state will be "in touch by the end of this week" to schedule a meeting. 

Jennifer Weingart/WVPE

 

The Benton Harbor mayor lead a delegation to Lansing Tuesday to meet with lawmakers and the Governor about a Department of Treasury lead plan that would close the district's high school in the spring of 2020.

Jennifer Weingart / WVPE Public Radio

 

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer listened for more than two hours Wednesday night as Benton Harbor community members implored her not to close their high school.

Jennifer Weingart / WVPE Public Radio

 

Benton Harbor community members and supporters gathered at the high school Tuesday night to protest a plan to close the high school.

 

In addition to Benton Harbor community members, people from school districts across Michigan that have been closed by the state came to lend their support.

Marilyn Ross-Golden has been teaching at Benton Harbor High School for 31 years. She helped more than a dozen students step up to the microphone at the meeting and say what they’re feeling.