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Benton Harbor school board to consider state's latest plan

Dustin Dwyer
Michigan Radio
Benton Harbor Area Schools administration building.

The Benton Harbor school board could vote this week to create a new advisory committee with the state to turn the district around.

The idea was floated by state officials last month, after the school board rejected an earlier proposal for the district from the Whitmer administration. The committee would include staff, teachers, and other community members, as well as state education leaders.

Deputy State Treasurer Joyce Parker says the committee would first analyze the district’s current situation, and come up with a turnaround plan before the start of next school year.

“First of all, the assessment will be conducted,” Parker says. “And once the assessment is done, then we can actually report out to the community, get feedback related to the assessment. Once we get that resolved, then we move forward with the operating plan.”

School board members have to approve the committee.

Board vice president Joseph Taylor said at a meeting last month that the committee was the best idea he’d heard so far from the state.

Taylor says he wants the district to work with the state education department, and the Department of Treasury on the plan.  

“These are the two stakeholders that can actually shut a district down,” Taylor said. “So I think you would want to have an olive branch out, versus arrows.”

The state says the district is $18.4 million in debt. 

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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