School Board Reviewing Financial Agreement With State

A proposed Financial Recovery Agreement between Benton Harbor Area Schools and the state of Michigan is under review by the local board of education. During a Tuesday meeting, Deputy State Treasurer Joyce Parker presented the plan to the school board. She said it covers financial aid to the district, what’s required of the district, and the hiring of a project manager to make sure its terms are met, among other things.

“In the event that the district does not make substantial progress in implementing the requirements of the plan, consistent with the plan, the department may withhold or delay funding assistance,” Parker read.

Board President Joseph Taylor, however, was skeptical about the agreement, saying the Benton Harbor School Board has been through this with the state before.

“In the past, we’ve been coerced into signing things and then after that, they come in with another document, Treasury as well as MDE, in order to close us down,” Taylor said.

Parker said she would bring a list of questions and concerns from the board back to leaders at the Michigan Department of Treasury. Board members will be closely reviewing the document. It’s the latest development after the governor nearly shut down Benton Harbor High School last year, leading to the creation of a community advisory committee to try to turn Benton Harbor Area Schools around.