One year ago, it was flagged as one of the most financially unstable school districts in the state of Michigan. But the tempo has changed for Benton Harbor Area Schools, in an effort to try and take back the district one student at a time.
Parents, teachers and board members have launched a massive recruiting campaign. The district is hosting nearly a dozen neighborhood seminars this summer, and even going door-to-door trying to bring School of Choice kids back to Benton Harbor.
Thursday's enrollment drive was at the River Terrace condominium complex. There, board president Anthony Jett met with dozens of parents and students considering returning to BHAS.
When asked what his biggest selling points are, Jett gave four answers.
1). The district's re-organization with one kindergarten facility, four first through eighth grade centers, and the main high school.
2). The current $200,000 pool renovation at Benton Harbor High School.
3.) Benton Harbor's team of dedicated teachers.
4). But most importantly Jett says, is the district's commitment to overcoming its former challenges.
"I tell everyone there's a new Benton Harbor Area Schools. The days of old are gone,” said Jett. “You know the ways we used to do business, we can't do that anymore, we can't afford to do that. With Schools of Choice, parents have options. So we want them to make us option number one.”
During the 2011-2012 school year, Benton Harbor had 3,000 students within its district. As of last count, That number had risen to 3,200.
That is not enough for Jett though. His goal is to have 3,800 kids enrolled by start of classes on September 4.
With the help of drastic cuts, the district’s finances may also be improving. BHAS is currently $17 million in debt, but expects to shed that number to $13 million by the end of fiscal year 2013.
If you'd like to view the full list of upcoming recruitment events, just click on the document attached to this story.