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State offer could prevent closures for Benton Harbor Area Schools

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -

Benton Harbor Area Schools is getting another chance to keep the district’s doors open.

After months of uncertainty about the future of three schools, the state superintendent said he is now giving the corporation some time to make a turnaround.

And while the option to close some schools is not completely off the table, this district’s administration will get a chance to prove it is on the right track.

“Have the district present some goals about what they’re going to do to improve the student achievement and then have us provide feedback as to whether those goals, we think will help improve student achievement or not,” said State Superintendent Brian Whiston.

The goal for the foreseeable future is getting Benton Harbor district leaders to sign a partnership agreement the state’s superintendent is offering.

It outlines benchmarks for the next 18 months and who will be held accountable.

This agreement is also for more than 30 schools throughout Michigan.

Eight school districts across the state including, Kalamazoo, River Rouge, Saginaw, Muskegon Heights, Detroit, Bridgeport-Spaulding, Pontiac and Michigan Technical Academy, have received letters from the state.

It came after Governor Rick Snyder encouraged state offices to reexamine solutions for failing schools.

“The governor, I think, contacted me and said I like the concepts that talk about on the partnership model and closure and reconstitution, so I want to give you a chance,” said Whiston.

Those nine at-risk school districts including now have 90 days to sign off on that agreement.

“If it’s a school that we see progress in, we don’t want those schools to close, we just want to provide additional support through the partnership model to help them improve,” said Whiston.

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