School board: Vote ‘yes, yes’ Nov. 3

Published 2:35 pm Thursday, October 22, 2015

The following letter was written by me, on behalf of the Dowagiac Union Schools Board of Education.

All of us together have an opportunity on Nov. 3 to make a wise decision that will impact our community and our students positively for decades to come.

By voting yes for both bond proposals, we will guarantee that our students will be in schools that are secure, comfortable (heating and cooling), educationally top notch (technology), and attractive to all (buildings, grounds, parking lots).

Additionally, our athletic facilities will meet the needs of all of our students (males and females) and will allow us to host athletic tournaments that will show off our community and bring business to our merchants. Currently, we are unable to host many events because our facilities don’t meet the requirements host schools.

Finally, all of our schools as well as our athletic facilities will be in compliance with the requirements of the American Disabilities Act (we are not now in compliance).

We currently have only one school building within our district that can be considered “state of the art” and that, of course, is Dowagiac Middle School. DMS is now approximately 10 years old, but because it was so well designed and constructed and well maintained daily, it still appears new.

It also is the only school that has effective security in addition to heating and cooling capabilities that allow the building to be locked and secured when students and staff are present.

Additionally, all of the key players who participated in the design and construction of DMS have been used again to plan and design the proposed changes for the renovated Sister Lakes Elementary, Kincheloe Elementary, Justus Gage Elementary, Pat Hamilton Elementary, and Union High School. So, as you try to envision what the finished products will be, take a look at DMS.

All renovated schools will represent our community well and provide extremely high quality learning opportunities for our students for decades to come.

Make no mistake!  The successful passage of both of our bond issues will meet the needs of generations of Dowagiac Union School District students.

Sister Lakes Elementary is the oldest of our schools having been built in 1946. The newest of our buildings (other than Dowagiac Middle School) is Union High School and it was opened in 1961 (54 years ago). Each of the buildings was well built (they have “good bones”) and they have been well cared for.

But, think about all of the changes our community has seen become real over the years since 1946 and/or 1961. Houses and cars from those years have either been replaced or renovated. Not so with our schools!

Our board’s position is that there is no good justification for renovating just one or more of the five schools and doing nothing with the others. We need to step up as a community and address the needs of all of our students and the time to do that is now!

Yes, this will cost money. But what doesn’t?

The positive payback to our community as a whole and to our students will reap major rewards for generations to come.

We have fact sheets that detail and explain the financial aspects of the bond proposals that are available in the district offices located upstairs in Dowagiac City Hall and in some businesses in the downtown area as well as from members of our citizens committee. Those fact sheets will help you to understand what the tax implication will be for you so please pick one up.  Our goal is to be completely transparent with no hidden costs or agendas.

Once again, we are asking that you vote “yes” for both proposals to ensure that our students and our community can look forward to safe, comfortable, and state-of-the art schools that will compare favorably with schools in neighboring districts where bond proposals have recently been passed (Niles, Cassopolis, Decatur, Marcellus, Bridgman, St. Joseph, Lakeshore and Buchanan).

Thank you for reading this and, if you have questions, direct them to Superintendent Paul Hartsig at 782-4420 or email at


Larry Schmidt

President, Dowagiac Union Schools Board of Education