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Dowagiac HS renovations on track as school year begins

DOWAGIAC, Mich. -- A $16 million transformation is underway at Dowagiac High School as students prepare to head back to school on Tuesday.

“This is a sense of pride,” said Dowagiac Union Schools Superintendent Paul Hartsig. “I was here for 17 years as a teacher and a principal, and it’s still nice to see some upgrades and some of these things being done.”

Hartsig is overseeing the largest renovation project in his district’s history.

“Back in November of 2015, our community supported us and passed two bond proposals that totaled $37 million,” he said.

$16 million is helping renovate the high school.

The rest of the money is going toward the football field, a new competition gym, and the district’s four elementary schools.

But the focus this summer has been on Dowagiac High.

“[Students are] going to come back to a lot of new updates, a lot of new technology, but they’re also going to come back to, still, some work in progress,” Hartsig said.

Students will return Tuesday to find several classrooms completely transformed, new windows, ceilings, and lights in some of the halls, and even new office space for the teachers.

But the work on the 1950s building is far from over.

While the gym is being built outside, the cafeteria is inside waiting to be upgraded, along with the media center.

The school’s front offices will soon be renovated and moved closer to the school’s entrance.

More classrooms will be renovated too.

But the multi-million dollar project is currently on budget and on schedule.

Hartsig said all the renovations are a testament to the district’s commitment to its students.

“I hope it says that we take our education here seriously,” he said. “And that we work, always, to provide the best instruction possible and the best facilities possible.”

Though construction will continue through the school year – the high school is expected to be completed by December 2018 – Hartsig said there is a plan in place to ensure that students will not be distracted by the construction while they are in class.

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