Archived Story

High school bond issue pursued

Published 10:45pm Monday, April 9, 2012

Dowagiac Board of Education voted 6-0 Monday night for Supt. Mark Daniel’s recommendation to pursue a bond issue Aug. 7 for a new high school.
While moving forward on the $17 million to $18 million construction project for a grade 6-12 campus with 2005 Dowagiac Middle School, which would mean extending Riverside Drive to Mathews Street, the board decided to maintain the current four K-5 elementaries — Sister Lakes, Kincheloe, Patrick Hamilton and Justus Gage — for the foreseeable future.
Supporting Daniel’s recommendation were President Larry Seurynck, Vice President Michelle Helmuth, Mark Dobberstein, Claudia Zebell, Ronda Sullivan and Stacy Leversen. Julia Smith missed the meeting, which was attended by about 25 people in the DUHS learning laboratory.
Daniel said, in mills, that’s about 2.1. DMS cost $21.85 million in 2001.
“One campus is the ultimate dream, but we’re going to have to go in stages,” he said. “Elementaries received $60 incentive funding for student achievement,” or $130,000.
“We will meet five of six of the governor’s best practices to cut into our $1.2 million deficit,” Daniels said. “We’re seeing gains and changing 9-12 to 6-12 will facilitate growth. We’re hitting the right chords. It’s just a matter of time.”
Infrastructure in the 60-year-old high school, such as the boiler, is a “ticking time bomb,” he said. Connecting grades 6-8 and 9-12 saves by sharing the Performing Arts Center, gymnasium and cafeteria and other “economies of scale.”
“I hope it’s something our community can rally around because it’s not going to be easy,” Daniel said.
“We owe it to the kids to take a good try at it because we want consistency of community schools and continuity from middle school to high school,” Dobberstein told citizens.. “Teachers can work together on curriculum and discipline procedures can be more consistent. Outside of the expense, I don’t see a downside. We can make more dollars (by retaining and attracting students) or spend less. If 30 kids came in a year, that’s $250,000.”
“School achievement is a huge impact of what happens to our community,” Helmuth said.
Project-based learning not only engages students, discipline problems tend to disappear, Zebell said.
“Facilities is only one small part,” Kincheloe Principal Dawn Conner said. “Vision has to be there, like working together collaboratively. We hope to learn something in the process that would make us stronger if it doesn’t pass. The high school would be closer to the college. Keeping our elementaries intact is good because there would only be one transition in their school career.”

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