Benton Harbor school board rejects state's plan to close down high school

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) - The city of Benton Harbor is not backing down on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to close down Benton Harbor High School, and the Benton Harbor school board says neither are they.

“Benton Harbor has nothing to do with the state, it has to do with us,” school board member Lue Buchana said.

On Friday, the school board rejected Whitmer’s proposal that would close down the high school. Instead, they are proposing their own plan that would keep the high school open and help improve the school’s academic and financial issues.

“I’m ecstatic to see the board just standing up. You're talking about the governor of the whole state of Michigan, and they are saying no to you," alumnus Rev. Edward Pinkney said.

Daniel Martin, who is the attorney representing the Benton Harbor school board, said he feels good about the direction the board is headed.

“I feel better today rather than last week, because I think we have a plan moving forward and I think we are all going to come together and have a solution that would be win-win for the students here at Benton Harbor," Martin said.

One losing solution student mentor Tracy Burton says she does not want to see is the state dissolving the district as whole -- something Whitmer said could happen if the state’s plan was rejected.

“What high schooler would not want a high school in their community? Students want a high school in their community, and more than that, they want to be educated just as good as any other child,” Burton said.

The school board says it is unsure what the outcome will be but say when it is all said and done, everyone will want to be a part of the future of Benton Harbor High School

“I’m so glad this did happen, because it woke up a sleeping giant,” school board Vice President Joseph Taylor said. “... I think when this is over with, we are going to be one of the best districts because we are going to be together."

The school board says they are waiting for the state’s response to their proposed plan, which could come by the end of the day Friday.

The board says it would prefer the state extend the deadline so both the board and the state can sit down and come up with a satisfactory solution.