Local school district races to finish major projects before first day of school

MARQUETTE — The school year is fast approaching and one local school district is working on several projects, some approved recently, others approved last year with the passing of a bond proposal.

Kids attending Marquette Area Public Schools have seen quite the change in the district in the last year with the passing of a $6.3 million bond last May. And that won’t be different this year as some of those bond projects near completion and many other projects are underway with only six weeks left until the first day of school.

Still left are classroom additions to Superior Hills and Cherry Creek Elementary Schools, and auxiliary gym at Marquette Senior High School. The elementary classroom additions, which were deemed necessary with a huge influx in elementary-aged children in the district, are running about four weeks behind due to the rainy weather this summer.

“We’ve done very well with our elementary enrollment, very strong. If those projects aren’t done to start the school year we’ll have some shuffling to do,” said MAPS Superintendent, Bill Saunders. “We won’t really have the space to accommodate all of the elementary sections that we’re going to need.”

Saunders said students may be in libraries, music and art rooms to start the school year and a section may have to move to Bothwell Middle School temporarily as the classrooms are finalized.

“Once they finish the project, we still have a lot of prep work to do as a district. We have to move furniture in, get the floors waxed, making sure those rooms are not quite so sterile so giving our teachers the opportunity to decorate and do some of those things,” Saunders said. “So it’ll be crunch time – it’ll be a lot of work at the last minute.”

But, he is hoping to avoid shuffling. Saunders said minimal disruption is anticipated, lasting no more than three-weeks.
The district was also busy hiring teachers to fill those newly-added classrooms.

“We’ve been going through quite a process here, especially with our kindergarten sections, Saunders said. “We’re up to 14 kindergarten sections – 11 kindergarten and three junior kindergarten sections.”

In addition to those projects, the Board of Education recently approved three bids for three other projects. These include a $35,000 bid for a new dimmer rack at Kaufman Auditorium and a three and a half thousand dollar bid for the replacement of two sections of thirty year-old ballasted roof on the high school.

Additionally, the school board also approved a change in diesel providers for the district. The school received three bids – one from Holiday at $1.83/gallon, one from Krist at $1.84/gallon and one from the Ojibwa Express at $1.91/gallon. Though Holiday was the lowest bidder, fill-ups could only be made at the Harvey station whereas all four local Krist Stations could service the buses.

“The money we were going to save by not sending all of our busses to Harvey really made the Krist bid the low bid for us,” said Saunders. “It equals about an $11,000 a year savings over what we would have been paying for diesel from the City of Marquette.”

The school is also finishing a few sinking fund projects, including new LED lighting with motion sensors in three gymnasiums, new bleachers at Bothwell as well as the new parking lot and driveway at Superior Hills.