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Benton Harbor schools out of deficit after 14 years

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Dustin Dwyer
/
Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor's school district is out of deficit after 14 years.

The district reports that it ended its fiscal year with a positive balance in its operating fund, or “General Fund,” for the first time since 2007.

At its lowest in June 2011, the district’s operating fund was $16.4 million in the red. Since then, the district has been lowering the deficit. In 2020, the district’s fund balance was -$1.2 million. By June 2021, the fund balance grew to $3.2 million.

Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent Andrae Townsel said it looks like the district will stay out of deficit in the coming years as it develops a five-year strategic plan. He also said the district increased pay and compensation for teachers.

“There are always going to be challenges and the battle is never over. But one thing is that this particular mission is accomplished and the next mission is up," Townsel said.

Benton Harbor's school district is receiving more than $94 million in COVID relief funding over three years.

The most recent package granted Benton Harbor significantly more money per student than most other Michigan districts.

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