Education
5:49 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Public can tell state review team what they think about Benton Harbor schools’ finances tonight

Benton Harbor High School
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A state review team is hosting a public meeting today in Benton Harbor. The six-member team is trying to determine if Benton Harbor Area Schools is in financial stress.

The Benton Harbor school district has been running a deficit since 2006. It's cut costs, but at the same time, it also has low-performing schools that need to improve test scores to meet state and federal standards. Plus, it’s lost students every year.

It’s already closed buildings, privatized support services and gotten concessions in wages and benefits from teachers.

The district’s superintendent says the school system is certainly in financial stress and cannot reasonably cut its way out of a deficit for another 14 years. But the state’s superintendent declined to give the district that much time.

The state review is a step in the process that could result in an emergency manager. The governor's review team has until August to report its findings.

The city of Benton Harbor just got out from under the control of an emergency manager earlier this year.