BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WOOD) — The state has suggested closing Benton Harbor High School and sending all of the students elsewhere as part of an effort to get the district’s finances in order and improve students’ education.
The Michigan Department of Treasury said Friday that under its “bold proposal“ to redirect Benton Harbor Area Schools, starting in the 2020-2021 school year, high schoolers would be sent to other nearby districts or get a career-based education.
Kindergartners through eighth graders would remain within the Benton Harbor district.
The Benton Harbor school board will have to OK the idea. The state says that if it refuses, there are only two other options: dissolve the entire district or turn it into a charter school.
In a statement, state Treasurer Rachael Eubanks acknowledged the plan “will be an adjustment for Benton Harbor families,” but asserted it is best for students.
“Sitting back and doing nothing is not an option,” she stated. “…This way, we can ensure K-8 students can get the skills they need and area high schoolers can get on a path to post-secondary success.”
The state says the district is $16 million in debt and has to pay $700 per student each year on covering debt. It added that only 3% of third graders were at the correct reading level in 2018 and no 11th graders have been ready for college in the last five years.