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Benton Harbor school board votes to establish advisory committee with the state

outside of Benton Harbor High School
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
Outside of Benton Harbor High School

Benton Harbor’s school district voted to approve a community engagement and advisory committee.

This comes after the state had proposed closing down Benton Harbor High School in May to help the district, which is struggling financially.

The district was $18.4 million in debt. Governor Whitmer said the district would have to close Benton Harbor High School for the 2020-21 school year.

The advisory committee will include representatives from the Michigan Department of Treasury and Michigan Department of Education, as well as members of the local community to assess the current status of the district and come up with a new turnaround plan in time for the 2020-21 school year.

Joyce Parker, Deputy Treasurer for State and Local Finance with the State Treasury Department, says the committee is tasked with first, assessing the district’s finances, student outcomes, and infrastructure needs.

From that information, it will develop a comprehensive operating plan for the district, according to Parker.

Parker says the committee should have an assessment of the district within 90 days, and the operating plan should be done by March of 2020.

The advisory committee will be made up of 11 voting members and one non-voting member. Parker says the committee should be finalized and have its first meeting before the end of October.

Members of the Benton Harbor school board did not respond to a request for comment. 

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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