LANSING — Last week, state officials announced their plan to close Benton Harbor’s high schools and send current and future students to adjacent school districts. In response, state Rep. Vanessa Guerra (D-Saginaw) issued the following statement:

“Coming from a community that experienced a complete district dissolution and another community that was threatened with school closures in 2017, I speak from personal experience when I say that closing schools is one of the most destructive acts that can be done to a community. Many students in struggling school districts are already facing significant adversity and closing schools only reinforces the difficulties they face by telling residents that hope no longer lives here. This decision should not be made lightly, nor be made without greater input from those affected. Benton Harbor School District has been under some form of state control since 2012 and a victim of underfunded and misguided state policy for decades before that — and they are not alone. The handling of this instance will set the tone for Michigan going forward and reverberate through all future decisions regarding struggling schools.”