Benton Harbor schools working to recruit students, increase enrollment

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — The signs couldn’t be clearer, Benton Harbor educators want students to go to school in their hometown. 

Right now, there are two signs back-to-back on Pipestone Road – one recruiting students to Benton Harbor Area Schools, the other for the independent Benton Harbor Charter School Academy.

“It was created because a few of our board members were concerned about students not being prepared for college, we’re really a small town school, about 400 families who trust us with their students and our goal is to make sure when they leave here they’re prepared to compete with anybody,” said Tim Harris, Principal of Benton Harbor Charter School Academy.

As for Benton Harbor Area Schools, the new superintendent is going into his second year with some milestones he needs the recuperating district to meet.

“For the first time in 14 years, we predict we will be out of deficit this year,” said Dr. Andrae Townsel, Superintendent of Benton Harbor Area Schools. “What incentives do we have for our teachers, how can we look at funding to make sure we’re paying our teachers competitively; going into this second year, it’s a time to focus on data – the last time we had school in a traditional setting, where were our numbers?”

While the schools are competing for students, they say it’s all for the benefit of Benton Harbor. 

“99% of the students who attend schools in this area are from this community – I was born and raised in this community – so if all of us can prepare students for college, that’s even better,” said Harris.   

“Major shoutout to those other institutions, because we’re all educating students in the 49022,” said Dr. Townsel.  

Benton Harbor-based Kinexus group is also now enrolling for its former alternative school, The Bridge Academy, that becomes a 9-12 charter school this fall.

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