Benton Harbor School Board Votes to Reject State Plan, Asks for Ongoing Discussion

As largely expected, the Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education this afternoon has rejected a proposal by the state of Michigan that would temporarily shut down Benton Harbor High School in exchange for elimination of some $12-million of the $18-million debt that the school system has racked up over the years.

After hearing a few public comments and recessing to a closed session with the school’s attorney to discuss options, the board emerged less than an hour later, cast a vote to reject the proposal from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and company and gaveled the meeting to a close.

According to my colleagues at WSJM News who were present for the meeting today, the vote came just before 1pm and the board said they would send more detailed information about a proposal of their own dispatched to the Governor’s office in Lansing on Wednesday when they also met with the state Department of Treasure and representatives from the state Department of Education.

The board has expressed hope that the Governor and state officials will be willing to negotiate an agreement to help the district both financially and academically while still maintaining the High School as a viable center for learning. The state has proposed closing the high school temporarily and evolving to a K-8 system in the community while financial and academic remedies can be instituted district wide.

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