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Benton Harbor School Board announces new CEO and website

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – The Benton Harbor Area Schools signed a new agreement with the state to create changes for the district. A new CEO will start for Benton Harbor schools in July, with hopes to prevent the district from being dissolved by the state.

Dr. Robert Hererra was named the CEO of Benton Harbor schools Thursday night.

According to the State Department of Education, he will be able to remake the district beginning July 17th.

"The Benton Harbor Community has faced a lot of challenges over the past few years. I'm going to have to ask for some trust and some faith that I'll follow through in a manner that allows everybody to feel like they have ownership in this bigger picture." Dr. Hererra said.

Along with the new addition to the board, a new website was launched and announced Thursday night.

The website, Restore the Roar Today, provides community members with information for the school board and Herrera’s role.

Herrera plans to work closely with the school’s Reform Officer, Dedrick Martin, to hopefully make board changes quickly.

"We look forward to making a significant difference in the academic improvement for the students within the first three years and certainly with 5 years we hope to restore and return the district back to local control." Dedrick Martin, MDOE School Reform Officer said.

The state-required changes did not please all of the board members, though.

"The state came to us and told us that we didn't meet our testing goals and it was a 'do-or-die' situation. Either we bring in the CEO that they wanted us to have, or they dissolve our district in November if we stay under the consent agreement." Lisa Gulley, Benton Harbor School Board Member said.

Dr. Robert Herrera released a statement on South Haven Public School’s Facebook Friday. Herrera announced his departure from South Haven and thanks them for the past six years.

“As you know, this spring I was approached by the Michigan Department of Education School Reform Officer to assist Benton Harbor Area Schools (BHAS) in their Partnership Agreement with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE).

My original role within the district was to serve as a consultant for four days, offering guidance in the areas of school improvement and reform during my personal leave time. Recently however, the Benton Harbor Board of Education and the Michigan Departments of Treasury and Education have come to a consensus regarding the benefits of a systemic change in leadership through the hiring of a chief executive officer to improve both academic performance and financial solvency throughout the district.

At yesterday's board meeting, the BHAS Board of Education entered into a new partnership with the Michigan Departments of Treasury and Education in which I am named as the Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer of Benton Harbor Area Schools.

After much consideration and reflection, I have formally accepted the offer as I truly believe my experience and expertise in educational reform will facilitate improvements for the students of Benton Harbor.

In the coming weeks, I will be working with the South Haven Board of Education to ensure a timely and successful transition for both South Haven and Benton Harbor.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the South Haven Public Schools Community for your support and encouragement over the past six years. It has been an honor to serve as your superintendent and a privilege to work with the students of South Haven Public Schools. Although my decision to depart from South Haven has been a difficult one, I look forward to partnering with BHAS, MDE, and the Department of Treasury to best serve the students of Benton Harbor.

I will continue to provide the South Haven Community with further details regarding my transition as they become available. Thank you, again, for your patience and understanding throughout this process.”


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