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School board makes recommendation for Benton Harbor superintendent

Benton Harbor Area School’s Board of Education recommended Missouri native Dr. Shelly Mills-Walker to replace interim Gregory Weatherspoon as the district’s superintendent.

The road to find her was months in the making for the school board and they believe she’ll be a key element in the district’s turnaround efforts.

“I knew I was thinking with both the parent cap and a board member cap at the same time and I think when I checked the list, she checks most my boxes,” said board president Sharon James.

Dr. Mills-Walker is currently an asst. superintendent at Ritenour School District in St. Louis, Missouri.

The decision came down to a five to two vote in Dr. Mills-Walker’s favor after deliberation among the board.

Several board members said they were ultimately impressed by how well-researched on the district she was during both interviews.

“She has done her homework, as vice president Taylor indicated,” said James. “She was very well-versed on what the demographics were here, she knew what our challenges were instructionally and she knew what our challenges were fiscally.”

This was one of two tough decisions for the board Thursday night.

The board says financial issues gave them no other choice but to approve consolidation plans for three buildings in the district as well.

According to the board, Morton’s Elementary, a kindergarten center and the central administration building will go offline at the end of the school year.

The board says fiscally it was decision that had to be made.

“It means that right now the board is at a place where we know we have to close some  buildings,” said James. “These are something that the board has the discretion to modify, make amendments and adjustments if we need to but we also have to get the approval of treasury to do those things as well.”

The board will present the recommendation to the search firm who will then make an offer to Dr. Mills-Walker.

The timeline on a start date is pending Dr. Mills-Walker’s decision.

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