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Proposed mega-school in Dowagiac is less expensive for voters

DOWAGIAC, Mich. – In a time when few local schools have been able to pass bond proposals, the Dowagiac School District is going for ‘passability’ over desire.

The Superintendent of Dowagiac Schools says Dowagiac Union High School is no longer conducive to learning.

A $19.9 million bond proposal is up for election on Tuesday that would close the high school and make Dowagiac Middle School a mega 6th-12th grade building.

 “This fan is our air conditioning,” said Daniel, pointing to a shaking fan on the ceiling of Union High School’s library. “By the end of the day you can see temperatures in the upper 90’s.”

Air conditioning isn’t the only reason Dowagiac Schools are looking for an upgrade. Michigan state testing is going online in 2014 and only two computer labs serve the entire building. Even if the school had more computers, there are only a few outlets in each room.

“I would say it’s not conducive to learning,” said Daniel.

Initially, Dowagiac Schools came up with a $30 million proposal to fix deficiencies at the high school and add technology to all elementary schools. “But we are in tough times,” said Daniel. “People are trying to make ends meet.”

A ‘Plan B’ was agreed upon. For about $20 million, an addition would be added to the 7-year-old middle school and grades six through 12 would attend. The proposal would add up-to-date technology at a lower cost, hopefully transferring into votes.

 “I can’t afford it,” said 94-year-old Joel Pierce. He’s on a fixed income and said that now isn’t the time to ask. “The way the situation is now and the way the economy is, people aren’t even working.”

Daniels hopes taxpayers find a way to pay because state test scores have been improving in Dowagiac and he said the students deserve an upgrade.  “If we can kick this up another notch who knows what’ll happen (with our 9th through 12th graders).”

The proposal is a 25-year, 2.6 mil that drops to a 2.4 mil after year one.

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