BHAS school board proposed third option to state officials to keep district running

BENTON HARBOR, Mich – State officials including Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer met with the Benton Harbor Area Schools school board to discuss options to fix the academic and financial problems in the school district. 

“We felt like we were listened to, they listened to us and it was a good conversation and we’ll wait to see the results of that conversation,” Benton Harbor Area Schools school board Vice President Joseph Taylor said.

State officials introduced a plan last month that included a first option to close Benton Harbor High School operating the district as K-8. 

“We know that there have been some challenges over the year’s today’s meeting with representatives from the Michigan Department of Education and the Department of Treasury as well as our policy team we had a good dialogue in sort of how we can move forward,” Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist said.  

Option two of the state’s plan would be to close the school district if the school board doesn’t comply.

Option three proposed by the school board would be to keep BHAS K-12 while attacking the financial and academic problems.

With the discussion of the school district focusing on current problems education experts say there are policies that led to the school district’s current issues. 

Benton Harbor Area Schools have been under multiple cooperative and consent agreements along with being under the state’s school choice policy which education experts say affect districts like Benton Harbor’s.

“Policies like Proposal A which is our school funding policy and we have our school choice policy which basically attaches dollars to kids and makes charter schools and suburban ring schools compete for kids in the inner core they each represent about eight thousand dollars and what happens is if you couple that with misguided testing evaluating schools it says that schools are a failure if they perform low on state tests well that’s sending a clear message to parents that you should put your kids elsewhere and the effect of that is that its gutted school districts like Benton Harbor,” Wayne State University Associate Professor of Curriculum Studies Thomas Pedroni said. 

Amid the cause to the effects that are plaguing the school district a solution is being worked out to meet Friday’s deadline. 

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