Almost 100 seniors on track to graduate

BENTON HARBOR — Almost 100 of the 133 seniors at Benton Harbor High School are now expected to graduate in June – up from the 38 seniors who were reported by school officials in March to be on track to graduate.

LaWanna Shelton, assistant superintendent of transformation, said the number of seniors slated to graduate increased significantly when they found that because of technical errors, all of the grades had not made it onto student transcripts.

“There were some bookkeeping errors of students that had actually made up a course and it wasn’t translated in some sort of way so they could have credit,” she told Benton Harbor school board trustees during their meeting Thursday.

She said school officials identified some of the problems right away and started correcting them. Other problems were only identified after students showed proof that they had taken and passed a course. That’s when they realized that some of the paperwork was missing, she said.

As a result, school officials worked with all of the seniors one-on-one to make sure their transcripts were accurate. And for the seniors who are not on track to graduate, she said they worked with them to make sure they had a plan.

Shelton said that of the seniors, 75 are expected to get high school diplomas, 13 are slated to get GEDs and seven are on track to receive certificates of completion. These students will graduate June 7.

She said another 26 seniors are on track to graduate in August after taking classes during summer school. There will be a graduation ceremony on Aug. 9 for those students.

Five of the seniors have decided to return for a fifth year to the high school and seven are taking an alternative pathway.

“We’re at a point right now that it really, truly now is up to the students to finish off their semester,” she said.

Shelton said that after they got the seniors’ transcripts in order, they started working one-on-one with the juniors. 

Next year, she said the high school will have two counselors and two graduation coaches.

Assistant Superintendent Patricia Robinson said summer school will be held June 17 through Aug. 2.

Trustee Patricia Rush, secretary of the board, said this is much better news than what the board heard two months ago. She described it as a big blow to the community, when it was announced just 38 seniors were on track to graduate.

Also on Thursday trustees heard a report from Chief Financial Officer Todd Mora going over various ways to make cuts so the school district can present a balanced budget to the state by the June 30 deadline. So far, he said another $500,000 needs to be cut to balance the budget. 

Contact: lwrege@TheHP.com, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege