Cassopolis Public Schools to form ‘capital needs’ committee

Published 1:25 pm Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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CASSOPOLIS — Cassopolis Public Schools is setting out toward a new vision for maintaining its facilities, one largely still to be determined. To design that future, the district administration is turning to the community to craft the specific goals and set the course for the future of the school.

Cassopolis Public Schools recently announced the intent to form a community committee to assess and plan for its capital needs, including buildings, technology, and transportation. The goal is to look at facilities in a long term scope, planning for roughly ten years, meeting current needs and being prepared for future ones.

Facility assessments are the norm for schools, but this one shares in the vision of the Cassopolis School Board as communicated to Superintendent Dr. John Ritzler when he was hired just a few years ago.

“The board made clear they wanted the district to listen to the community,” said Ritzler.

“School is a resource and an asset to the community,” said District Business Manager James English. “We want to hear what the community has to say about the long term vision for the facilities.”

English noted they are hoping to bring in as much of the community as possible. To achieve this, the aim for community members is a minimal investment of time and energy that will pay off in maintaining Cassopolis as a positive place to live. An initial set of three meetings in the spring will have a firm time limit of 90 minutes each.

During these meetings, community members will lead in bringing ideas to the table and crafting a survey to be sent to voters in the district. Future meetings will likely take place to assess survey results. In the end, the group will make recommendations to the board based on their work.

School Administration has no specific agenda, wanting the details to come from the community committee. Their goal is to understand what voters in Cassopolis believe are the resources that should be offered by the school and which needs should be the focus. Staff members are also getting a chance to weigh in, but  that process is being deliberately separated to give the  community the freedom of its own ideas

In the end, they hope to create a “living, breathing plan” that is flexible enough to grow with the needs of the district and unforeseen challenges.

English noted that they have interested members already, but would like as many as possible. He encouraged all voters in the district to apply, whether or not they have children in the schools. Both English and Ritzler pointed out that the quality of a school system correlates to increased value of local property and the community as a whole.

“The schools belong to the community,” said Ritlzer. “It’s their resource.”

Those interested in participating in the community community may do so by reaching out to Executive Administrative Assistant Beth Westrick by emailing or calling (269) 445-0503.