Benton Harbor High School’s graduation rate dropped nearly 30% from 2018 to 2019.
At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, BHHS graduated about 76% of its seniors. Last year that number fell to just below 47%. The state average was about 81%.
Andrae Townsel, who just became the superintendent of Benton Harbor schools two weeks ago, says the first step in improving the graduation rate is to coordinate efforts to support students and teachers in the district.
“Ensuring not only stability in Benton Harbor Area Schools, but to revitalize the educational experience that our students receive,” Townsel said.
Last year, Governor Whitmer’s office proposed closing Benton Harbor High because of low academic achievement and poor district finances, but the state is now working with the district to improve both areas.
Townsel came to the district while the Community Engagement Advisory Committee is still coming up with a recommendation for the district’s Operation Plan.
That committee is one of the things the state’s Department of Treasury wanted Benton Harbor Area Schools to create as far as setting benchmarks for improvement.
Townsel says once that plan is finished, he’s optimistic that he and the school board can turn the district around.
“If we can set our young people up for post-secondary success and the students see the importance of high academic achievement, I truly believe we can increase our graduation rate sooner than later,” he said.