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Benton Harbor OKs consent agreement to tackle $15M deficit

Sep 24, 2014

For years, kids have been leaving Benton Harbor schools in droves.

Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Meanwhile, per-pupil money from the state has been flat. 

Now the school district has signed a consent agreement with the state to wipe out a $15 million deficit.

Ask school board member Joseph Taylor how Benton Harbor schools got here, and he says, simple:

"It's what's called debt. You know, we had an $18 million deficit. We knocked it down some, but the state only gives you so much time. And when that time ran out, we had to consider other options."

Taylor says at least this way, the board keeps some local control, rather than giving it to an emergency manager.

It's like a step-by-step financial road map the schools are required by the state to follow.

The details haven't been hammered out yet.

Taylor says they're going to try to dig out of debt without making massive cuts to teachers or schools.

He says the district added about 100 kids this year thanks to recruitment campaigns.