Benton Harbor, Education, Emergency Managers — November 17, 2011 at 8:58 pm

What’s left to take over in Benton Harbor? Oh, yeah. The schools.


Benton Harbor schools are a whisker away from getting a — you guessed it — an Emergency Manager.

The State of Michigan will conduct a preliminary review of the “critical and alarming financial situation” at Benton Harbor Area Schools. This is the first step in a process that would determine if the school district needs a state-appointed emergency manager. It doesn’t mean one would be appointed for certain.

Leonard Seawood has been superintendent of Benton Harbor Area Schools for a little more than a year. “When you are in a deficit like I inherited…there are no easy answers in terms to digging yourself out of this hole as a district,” Seawood said.

He says the district is now running an $18 million budget deficit. He says that’s around 38-percent of the district’s total annual operating budget. In a letter to Seawood this week, Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan said the deficit “represents approximately 50-percent of the district’s general fund revenues for the year.” […]

“If we’re going to maintain local control of our district, there’s no way around some of the cuts in expenditures that we have to make,” Seawood said, “And none of these are going to be very popular with our community.”

Just a quick reminder: Governor Rick Snyder and the Republicans took about $1 billion out of the K-12 school budgets statewide. Now on-the-edge communities are going bankrupt. Nothing an Emergency Manager can do will change that outside of making them into McSchools staffed by minimum wage teachers and staff.