Benton Harbor schools CEO lays out options for struggling district

NOW: Benton Harbor schools CEO lays out options for struggling district

BENTON HARBOR, Mich – Benton Harbor Area Schools monthly CEO and Superintendent meeting covered the district’s financial and academic issues along with ways to overcome them. 

“Understand that $713-thousand dollars went to pay the deficit instead of going into the classrooms,” Benton Harbor Area Schools CEO and Superintendent said. 

During Tuesday’s meeting Herrera laid out the districts $18-million dollars of debt and how it affects the district academically. 

During the districts audit they discovered that only a quarter of Benton Harbor High Schools seniors are on-track to graduate. 

“68 are very unlikely to graduate, 38 are on track to graduate and so that leaves another 38 kind of caught in between right now,” Herrera said.  

Herrera laid out several options for the district moving forward to solve the issues plaguing them. 

  • Option 1: Restructure debt 
  • Option 2: The state government appropriating $21.5 million from its budget 
  • Option 3: Dissolve the district and redistribute students to surrounding districts
  • Option 4: Enter into a cooperative agreement with another school district
  • Option 5: Contract with Berrien Regional Education Service Agency 
  • Option 6: Create a teacher training school with a University
  • Option 7: Create a public school academy (Charter School)

Of the options laid out Herrera and the school board and the Michigan Department of Education will discuss the best option moving forward 

“So the one that came recommended as we were reviewing them with treasury and MDE is the charter authorization I mean from the big picture if you’re not a community member and there’s not risk to giving up your school and local control and I do understand and respect all of that but just from a financial position and allowing me the best opportunity to reallocate several hundred thousands of dollars back into the learning environment the charter authorization seems to be the most reasonable one to offer or recommend,” Herrera said. 

The ideas discussed on Tuesday night go along with the district predicting a loss of approximately 90 students next year which negatively affects the district’s financial picture. 

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