Former Dowagiac principal named superintendent

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The former principal at Dowagiac Union High School will be returning to the school district, with a new title: superintendent.

Paul Hartsig

Paul Hartsig

The Dowagiac Board of Education announced that it has chosen Paul Hartsig as the new leader of the Dowagiac Union School district. Hartsig, the current principal at Bridgman High School, was unanimously selected by the board from the four finalists that were brought in for public interviews on Saturday.

“We had a group of really good candidates who applied for the position,” said Board President Michelle Helmuth-Charles. “However, [Hartsig] has an
existing relationship with the community, and the feedback we received from the people in attendance was very strong.”

Hartsig will replace outgoing Superintendent Mark Daniel, who will resign from his position effective in July in order to become superintendent of the McLean County Unit District 5 in Illinois.

The board decided to end its search after a single round of interviews due to the strong consensus across the entire group, Charles said.

Hartsig has served as the principal at Bridgman High for the last two years. Prior to that, Hartsig had served eight years as the chief administrator at Dowagiac Union High School, replacing Ken Dockerty in 2004. The Tawas City native had taught at the district since 1995 before becoming principal.

Despite taking a position outside district, Hartsig has remained a resident of Dowagiac, with children currently enrolled in local schools, Charles said.

“He has always supported the community,” Charles said.

His prior experience working with Dowagiac students and staff was one of the qualities that made him stand out from the other candidates, especially with the challenges that will be facing him when he comes into position this summer. One of the main issues he will be dealing with is helping to coordinate updates for the district’s aging facilities, where his prior knowledge will be of great value, Charles said.

“He doesn’t have the learning curve that others would have without already knowing our district,” she said.

While he lacks prior experience as a superintendent, Charles said she is confident that he is capable of performing the duties awaiting him.

“With the team we have in place supporting him, he can definitely be an effective leader,” she said.

Hartsig and the district are in the process of negotiating a contract, which should be finalized before the board’s next meeting on June 16. The members plan on voting on the terms of the contract then.

Despite the short turnaround, the administrator is excited about the opportunity to again serve his hometown, Charles said

“He had a really good analogy, that this is a ‘roll up your sleeves, dive in, hit the ground running and work hard kind of school district,’” she said. “He’s ready to get going.”