Benton Harbor Area Schools names new superintendent

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. --- Benton Harbor Area Schools picking their next superintendent Monday night.

Dr. Andrae Townsel will be the next superintendent.

The board choosing Townsel unanimously tonight over Patricia Robinson, the districts interim superintendent who’s served under the changing leadership for more than two decades.

The board said they saw Townsel as someone who could bring a fresh perspective to the district.

“I feel humbled and honored,” Townsel said. “This is the time for change for Benton Harbor Area Schools. The time is right and the time is now.”

Townsel is a Harvard graduate and currently the assistant superintendent for the Wayne Westland school district near Detroit. He touts his experience turning around a troubled high school in Massachusetts.

He says his first order of business will be connecting with the community.

“I have to hit the ground, learn who our senior leadership is in the district and build that trusting relationship, get to know our parents, connecting with the greater community.”

The struggling school district has been without a superintendent for nearly six months and earlier this year was threatened by a state-mandated closure of Benton Harbor High School.

Townsel promising to turn things around for the Tigers.

 “Go tigers! And when I say go tigers, I mean go tigers in academics, athletics, arts, level up in every capacity, we’ve got your back and we want to be great and we want people to say yeah those tigers are great.”

It's unclear exactly when Townsel will take over as superintendent but he says he is excited to get started. He already talked about some of the ideas he has to tackle the deficits the district is facing.

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