Community members fight to keep Benton Harbor HS at meeting

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) - Community members continued expressing concern about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal to close Benton Harbor High School.

At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, one man described the situation as chaos.

“This is what they have caused: chaos, confusion and frustration,” one community member said.

“Instead of a strategic plan, someone has proposed that we, once again, play musical chairs with our schools,” another community member said.

“It’s sad, but we have to deal with reality right now, and when it comes to children and having a world-class community, how can you have a world-class community without giving children a world-class education,” a community member asked.

Others said the community could not rely on state officials or government to help with the current situation.

The governor argued there has to be some kind of plan to combat high debt and poor student performance at the high school, adding she will do what it takes to ensure every child receives a quality public education.

The school board and the community rejected the state’s plan to close the high school and will meet Wednesday to negotiate a plan moving forward.

“Just to go and dialogue, for them to hear us out and for us to hear them out. To determine next steps of what that plan is going to look like,” Benton Harbor Area Schools Board Vice President Joseph Taylor said.

An educator at the meeting had a plan to help make the school better. It is called the high school course catalog, a curriculum that better meets students’ needs

“We really want the students to develop smart goals and work toward having a meaningful learning experience at Benton Harbor High School,” the educator said.

The board said there is no deadline right now as to when a decision has to be made.

At the meeting, the school board discussed the budget too. In the 2018-2019 academic year, Benton Harbor Area Schools said they were around $4 million in debt. They could see these same numbers for the 2019-2020 academic year.