BENTON HARBOR — Benton Harbor school district’s auditors delivered some good news Tuesday to the school board.

The district’s short-term debt in its general fund decreased by $680,000 – from $4.4 million at the end of the 2017-18 school year to $3.7 million on June 30, the end of the 2018-19 school year.

“That tells me we’re going in the right direction,” said Mike Gruennert, a manager with Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors.

After the meeting, Chief Financial Officer Scott Johnson said the audit shows that the general fund balance is at its highest point in the last 12 years. He said the district’s long-term debt is $13.26 million. When added to the short-term deficit of $3.7 million, that puts the district’s total debt at around $17 million – down from the $18.4 million state officials said the total debt was at in May.

Marc Sawyers, another manager with the firm, said during the meeting that there were a few audit findings, but they did not rise to the level where compliance as a whole was in question.

“There’s not an adverse opinion here,” he said.

Johnson said after the meeting that the audit findings included that the district needs to improve how it reports the number of students eating meals and to improve how it documents how grant money is spent, so the district can be reimbursed.

“There have been a number of audit findings that the auditors identified and the district has already ... developed a corrective action plan to correct those findings,” he said.

In addition, school board trustees approved allowing Matt Davis, who bought the former Northshore School on M-63 in July 2018, to assign the agreement to another buyer. 

President Joseph Taylor said the sale has been held up for over a year due to problems with the title. Secretary Patricia Rush said the property sold for $195,000.

Trustees did not say who the new buyer is.

Contact:, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege