Neighboring election highlights need for community involvement

Published 10:42 am Thursday, May 7, 2015

For Dowagiac residents hitting the polls Tuesday, only a single question awaited them on the ballot – which the vast majority of ticked the proverbial “no” box for.

Voters living in the city to the east had more than just Proposal 1 on their plate though.

Niles voters narrowly passed two bond proposals on Tuesday that will go toward paying for $40 million worth of improvements to buildings within the Niles Community School District.

The Dowagiac district found itself in a similar position three years ago, when it asked voters to approve a bond that would have provided $19.9 million worth of funding for new additions and technology for its buildings. The measure was overwhelmingly shot down by 70 percent of voters.

With leaders at Dowagiac Union Schools attempting to take another crack at overhauling its buildings, getting voters invested in the conditions of the buildings where their children spend their formative years learning their ABCs and 123s is an absolute necessity for the district if they want to have any chance of success this go around.

So far, at least, they have been attempting to do just that.

On May 19, the administration will share the results of its recent building survey, issued last month to district voters, in a public meeting held at Dowagiac Union High School. The meeting and survey comes on the heels of the series of tours the district has hosted for its elementary, middle, and high school facilities, which has taken place over two years.

While there’s no guarantee that the district’s plans will require action from voters, it would be foolish to rule it out. With aging high school and elementary buildings, many of which lack air conditioning or other amenities, whatever plan leadership comes up with will likely require substantial funding that cannot be scrounged up from existing resources.

Regardless of what actions the district will take in the future, we applaud their efforts to pick the brains of parents, grandparents or other concerned citizens when it comes to the future of their facilities.

We also are encouraging any members of the public who have not been involved in the building tours or survey to jump in, and at least stay informed about the issue.

At the end of the day, the community will see nothing but benefits should they invest in the best possible education for its future members, business owners and leaders.


Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.