Dowagiac superintendent to step down

Published 1:12 pm Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dr. Mark Daniel will be stepping down as superintendent of Dowagiac Union Schools this summer, as he has been selected as the new superintendent of a district in McLean County, Ill.

Daniel’s hire as the head of the McLean County Unit District 5 is expected to be approved by the district’s school board on Thursday. The district announced its recommendation of Daniel for the position earlier this week.

Mark Daniel

Mark Daniel

“It’s a growth opportunity for me and our family,” Daniel said. “On the other hand, I have a lot of great things going here as well that I would have liked to see the completion of.”

Daniel has served as Dowagiac superintendent for the past four years. The Cassopolis resident had previously served as an educator and administrator in several Indiana schools before coming to Dowagiac in June of 2010.

He is expected to begin his new position on July 1.

The McLean school system has more than 13,000 students enrolled within its 23 buildings, and is highly rated within the state of Illinois, Daniel said.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to serve in another community,” Daniel said. “We’ll see how things go.”

Daniel was one of three final candidates that administrators with McLean considered for the position. He was initially approached by the school district in mid-January to apply for the job, Daniel said.

“It’s amazing how quickly all of this happened,” Daniel said.

Daniel first informed the Dowagiac Board of Education of his contact with the McLean district in February. The Dowagiac board is in the beginning stages of searching for a new superintendent and hasn’t decided if it will use an outside hiring agency or conduct the search internally, said Board President Michelle Helmuth-Charles.

“He will be missed,” Helmuth-Charles said. “He did a lot of good things for the district.”

Daniel will work with the Dowagiac School Board on transitioning leadership to whomever the board hires to replace him, Helmuth-Charles said.

In his tenure as superintendent, Daniel oversaw a number of changes to the district, including halting a six-year decline in enrollment in 2011. The following year, he oversaw the construction of the first of two new “smart classrooms” at Dowagiac Union High School.

Also in 2012, he helped lead the charge for a $19.9 million bond proposal, that, among other measures, would have paved the way for construction of a new high school building. However, the proposal was shot down by voters, many of whom considered the millage to be too expensive for the district to handle.

In recent months, Daniel and his administration have been working on another plan to help modernize the district’s five school buildings, conducting public tours of their facilities in order to garner feedback from residents.

Despite a few lingering issues, Daniel said he feels he will be leaving the district in good shape before his departure in July.

“I’m blessed for the experience I gained in Dowagiac that I will be carrying into this new position,” Daniel said. “It’s been a great four years, and I’m ready to start the next leg of this journey.”