Benton Harbor School's superintendent search helped by national spotlight

The transformation of Benton Harbor Area Schools continues.

The school board announced Tuesday an overwhelming response to their superintendent search as they near the end of their selection process.

The district’s athletics program had received national media coverage for months.

So now, the superintendent job position that was once a challenge to fill is a hotly contested opportunity.

School Board President Sharon James says there were 50 applicants this time around.

She says it’s an even more impressive number considering there were only five applicants back during the 2007 search and the last two predecessors were chosen internally.

 With millions of eyes on the district last year, their dreams of ‘restoring the roar’ became a reality.

“It’s very, very real and you know we had a great year, an awesome amazing year, I could not have asked for a better year,” said James.

That amazing year for the district did however see a rocky start.

The board parted ways with the former superintendent Dr. Leonard Seawood in October 2015 amid scandal.

But the board says it was grateful to have an interim who stepped up to the challenge.

“When you see the growth of the board just this past year, you have to know just how instrumental Mr. [Greg] Weatherspoon was with that process,” said James.

And now the search to find a full-time replacement is getting major boost from all the national attention the high school’s football team has received last year.

So as the board works to continue a district-wide turn around, they will now have the benefit of a larger pool of candidates that wants to help.

“They want to be a part of great challenges like this to help the transformation come to pass,” said James.

The search firm helping with the process has narrowed it down nine candidates.

The board and the public will get a chance to meet the finalists during a video conference meeting on Friday.

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