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Benton Harbor OKs consent agreement to tackle $15M deficit

Benton Harbor High School
Lindsey Smith
/
Michigan Radio
Benton Harbor High School is one of nearly 100 schools on the list of the Michigan's "lowest achieveing schools" for 2011.

For years, kids have been leaving Benton Harbor schools in droves.

Meanwhile, per-pupil money from the state has been flat. 

Now the school district has signed a consent agreement with the state to wipe out a $15 million deficit.

Ask school board member Joseph Taylor how Benton Harbor schools got here, and he says, simple:

"It's what's called debt. You know, we had an $18 million deficit. We knocked it down some, but the state only gives you so much time. And when that time ran out, we had to consider other options."

Taylor says at least this way, the board keeps some local control, rather than giving it to an emergency manager.

It's like a step-by-step financial road map the schools are required by the state to follow.

The details haven't been hammered out yet.

Taylor says they're going to try to dig out of debt without making massive cuts to teachers or schools.

He says the district added about 100 kids this year thanks to recruitment campaigns.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health and the COVID-19 pandemic.
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