BENTON HARBOR — Benton Harbor Area Schools Superintendent/CEO Bob Herrera has been named one of seven candidates to be interviewed for the superintendent job at Farmington Public Schools in Farmington, Mich.

He is scheduled to interview for the job at 7 p.m. Wednesday, according to a news release on the Farmington school district’s website. After the final interview Wednesday, Farmington school board trustees are expected to identify finalists for the next round of interviews.

They expect to make a final choice between May 22 and June 4. The district’s current superintendent is retiring.

Herrera said in an emailed statement he is pursuing other career opportunities due to uncertainty of the future partnership between the Benton Harbor school district and the state.

“Serving as superintendent, I will likely be facing significant changes in my role as well as changes in parameters, supports and expectations for BHAS as required by (Michigan Department of Education) and (Michigan Department of Treasury),” he said. “Considering the dramatically changing landscape and lack of clear guidance, I have recently chosen to pursue other career opportunities. I will keep the Board and school community informed of any potential changes in my employment in a timely manner.”

Benton Harbor school board trustees approved hiring Herrera with a four-year contract in June 2018, with him taking over leading the school district on July 17. At the same time they hired him, trustees approved a five-year cooperative agreement with the state.

Under the agreement, Herrera reported directly to the state, with the trustees taking an advisory position in all matters except the borrowing of money and taxation.

But in December, state lawmakers approved legislation that on June 30 repeals the section of law the cooperative agreement was made under. Benton Harbor is the only school district affected.

School board trustees are expected to take back their traditional control on July 1. But it is uncertain what role the state will play.

The Benton Harbor school district has been under some kind of state control since 2014, when trustees entered into a consent agreement with the state Department of Treasury due to its debt of around $15 million at the time.

In addition, trustees approved a partnership agreement in May 2017 with MDE due to the district’s persistently low test scores. 

The cooperative agreement replaced the partnership agreement. And former state Treasurer Nick Khouri announced in November 2018 that the school district was released from the consent agreement. At the time, school officials weren’t certain what that meant, given that the district was still in debt. 

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