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Old Proposal

Old Proposal

Editor's Note

On May 24, 2019, the state of Michigan proposed a bold solution for Benton Harbor Area Schools' academic and financial crisis. Since that time, the state Treasury and Education departments have offered a whole community approach that creates a Community Engagement and Advisory Committee to develop an operating plan for the school district. Discussions with the school board are ongoing. This page archives the previous proposal for historical purposes.


  • The financial crisis that continues to plague BHAS has existed for many years — long before the current administration and current version of the local school board were in place.
  • The district is currently $18.4 million in debt, which means the district is currently spending $700 per student to pay back debt each year.


  • In 2018 only THREE PERCENT of BHAS third graders could read at grade level.
  • Fewer than three 11th graders were deemed college-ready in each of the last five years.

Because of these challenges, it will take bold solutions to remedy the years of financial deficits and academic decline. The State of Michigan believes it is possible for the BHAS district to continue on for years into the future — if state and local leaders are willing to look at all the facts and make hard decisions.

One thing is clear: doing nothing is not an option.

A Bold Solution for Benton Harbor Students

To help put Benton Harbor students first, the State of Michigan and community partners have proposed a bold plan to expand opportunities for Benton Harbor students from kindergarten through eighth grade and suspend operations at the high school and alternative high school.

Under this plan, starting in the 2020-2021 school year, high school students would be able to attend one of eight local high schools in their area, or get a career and technical education-focused education and earn college credits in partnership with Lake Michigan College.

The Goals for Benton Harbor Students:

  • Improve academic outcomes for all BHAS students in grades K-8.
  • Provide new high-quality educational opportunities for BHAS students in grades 9-12.
  • Stabilize BHAS finances to set a new foundation for the district and put more tax dollars into classrooms.

Get the Facts:

Under the state's proposal:

  • K-8 remains open: Students in grades K-8 may continue to attend BHAS. The state will work to ensure every K-8 student in BHAS can get a quality public education so they can read by the end of third grade and get on a path to postsecondary success.
  • Local options for Benton Harbor High Schoolers: Starting in the 2020-2021 school year, Benton Harbor High School students will be welcomed into one of eight local high schools in their area, or they may choose to pursue a career and technical education-focused education through Lake Michigan College.
  • Transportation: Every Benton Harbor high school student will have free transportation to and from their new high school at no cost to families
  • High school building: The local school district will maintain control of the high school building.
  • Sports: Area high schools will support all sports for incoming Benton Harbor High School students.
  • The Tigers Mascot: Lake Michigan College has the option to carry the Tigers mascot at Lake Michigan Academy, the career and technical education-focused high school and early/middle college program on the campus of Lake Michigan College.

Who's Supporting the Plan to Put Benton Harbor Students First?

Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart -

“Above all else, we need to make sure Benton Harbor’s students get a quality education that prepares them for life after school. Unfortunately, given past district decisions, Benton Harbor’s dedicated educators haven’t been provided the tools to be successful.  For too many years, they’ve been shortchanged both in terms of resources – like quality books, curriculum, training and technology – and compensation. While the proposal put forth today is not ideal, it’s the best solution for students and families – far better than closing down Benton Harbor’s schools and leaving that community, its students and its school employees without options. This is a bold solution that will put Benton Harbor students on a path to success. The MEA is ready to partner with our local members, the local school board, surrounding districts, Lake Michigan College, and everyone else who wants to ensure Benton Harbor students and educators can thrive.”

10 superintendents and educators from the Benton Harbor area, including: Berrien Springs Public Schools, Bridge Academy, powered by Kinexus Group, Bridgman Public Schools, Coloma Community Schools, Eau Claire Public Schools, Lake Michigan College, Lakeshore Public Schools, Niles Community Schools, St. Joseph Public Schools, and Watervliet Community Schools.

“As educators, we all share a responsibility to ensure every student can get a quality public education. We stand by ready to serve the Benton Harbor community and help every student thrive and build a future for themselves here in Michigan. We’re ready to work with everyone who wants to help.”

Related Documents

BHAS Tentative Joint Plan Overview