The Benton Harbor Area Schools Board of Education will meet with state officials this week to talk about what’s next for the district. At a session on Tuesday night, board President Stephen Mitchell said the meeting will be at Benton Harbor High School at 5 p.m. Friday. Board Vice President Joseph Taylor told us later that representatives from the governor’s office, the Michigan Department of Education, and the Michigan Department of Treasury will be at the meeting. State Superintendent Michael Rice is also expected. Taylor is optimistic.

“Our new state superintendent wants to come down and meet us as well because he’s an intricate part of the partnership,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the meeting will be public. Also on Tuesday, the school board voted to hire Ray and Associates to lead the search for a new district superintendent. Taylor said finding a “highly qualified” superintendent is something the state wants for Benton Harbor, and the search will be national.

“We’re at a state of turnaround. We’re at a state where we must meet certain mandates so we really need a highly, highly qualified and a turnaround-type specialist than can come in and get the work done.”

Taylor said Treasury and the Michigan Department of Education have agreed to foot the $22,000 bill for the search. He added it can be as long as the board wants it to be.