Archived Story

Community speaks on failed bond proposal

Published 6:14pm Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hours after election results trickled in from polling centers in precincts across Cass County, Dowagiac residents weighed in on the failed Dowagiac Union Schools bond proposal, rejecting the possibility of a new high school.

With the votes tallying 1,665-486, voters shut down the $19.9 million bond proposal with a general consensus that the district can’t afford it, and neither can residents. The proposal, set at 2.35 mills, or $2.35 on every $1,000 of taxable valuation, detailed plans to erect a new high school adjacent to Dowagiac Middle School with a districtwide upgrade to technology for students and teachers. While some general estimates claimed a cost of $30 to $40 a year, depending on a homeowner’s tax valuation, residents denied the proposal.

“I voted no,” Laura Rohacs, of Dowagiac, said. “With the times the way they are, we (the community) can’t afford it.”

As for  Brent Robinson, director of Council on Aging’s Front Street Crossing downtown, he voted for the proposal, saying it was a decision for the future.

“It’s important,” Robinson said. “It’s the children in my mind that I’m thinking of, but there seemed to be a lack of interest.”

Robinson said that though he, and others voting for the bond, didn’t expect it to pass, it will take a lot of work to “get everyone on board.”

Dowagiac resident Dorothy Fernham also voted for the bond, saying it was imperative to help get future generations the education they need.

After results were tallied and finalized, the Dowagiac Daily News Facebook page received comments on a post asking for views on the failed bond. Gary Zimmerman said the community can’t afford a raise in taxes.

“No matter how they mask it, we cannot afford a new high school right now,” Zimmerman said. “If you want a new school that badly, I would suggest getting some jobs to come to this town.”

Rosemary Remus Smith agreed with Zimmerman, stating repairs to the current high school should be done.

“They have deliberately not done maintenance and repairs on the existing one  thinking a worn-out looking building would get us to vote ‘yes,’” Smith said.

“It’s my understanding that the enrollment here is down, so there should be no need for a new school … fix the existing one.”

Dowagiac Supt. Mark Daniel was not available for comment. Other school administrators did not immediately return phone calls.

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