Benton Harbor school board approves teacher pay cut

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Benton Harbor Area Schools seem to have avoided a state takeover.

Tuesday was the final day of a preliminary review of the district’s finances. Benton Harbor had a month to convince the state it was on the right track to solving their financial woes.
Also on Tuesday the BHAS School Board voted to approve teacher’s union concessions. A 10% pay cut and 20% insurance buy in for all teachers was accepted.
There is still a chance the Michigan could take over the district. With the new teacher contracts, Benton Harbor has filled every recommendation the state sent the district in November.
On November 15th, the district was informed by the state that they had a month to make appropriate cuts to begin to solve their problems. In that time, the board has consolidated schools, laid off teachers and now agreed on the teacher concessions.
Superintendent Leonard Seawood said there is plenty of work still to do to get out of a deficit like recruiting students to get more funding.  “The reality is I don’t know if we can cut our way out of this deficit. We have to do something that makes this district attractive to recruit new students,” he said.
Breaking even is probably years away for BHAS. They are still about $18 million in debt.
Seawood said the cuts will pay off. He said this January an audit will show that for the first time in a very long time the district won’t be losing money.

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