State proposes to close Southwest Michigan community high schools

BENTON HARBOR, MI – The state is proposing to close Benton Harbor High School and Alternative High School as a way to achieve better academic success.

State officials presented the idea on Friday, May 24, and said it needed approval from the Benton Harbor area schools education council before any plans went ahead. before.

High school students would be referred to one of eight high schools in the area instead of the two high schools in Benton Harbor. They would benefit from free transport to schools.

The proposal comes after tests showed that no Grade 11 student in the district had been deemed “college ready” in each of the past five years. The benchmark is based on SAT scores, and statewide about 35% of this year’s graduates met the standard when they took the test as juniors.

Other data shows that only 3% of third-graders at Benton Harbor schools could read at grade level in 2018.

State officials say the crisis is due, in part, to the district’s $ 16 million in debt that requires spending $ 700 per student each year to pay it off.

“There is no doubt that this will be an adjustment for the families of Benton Harbor, but it is the best solution to serve the students and put the district on the right track to settle its debt,” according to a written statement by State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks,

“Sitting down and doing nothing is not an option. We are proud of the solution we have put on the table and believe it is a much better option than what has happened in the past where districts were either completely dissolved or converted to a charter system. This way we can ensure that K-8 students can acquire the skills they need and that high school students in the area can embark on the path to post-secondary success, ”he said. she declared.

According to the plan, high school students would begin attending the other eight schools in the 2020-2021 school year. Students would also be allowed to take “vocational technical training” and earn college credit in partnership with Lake Michigan College.