Public should be part of MAPS grade configuration

Tonight, the Marquette Area Public Schools Board of Education is expected to vote on a new grade configuration for the district during its regular meeting.

This is one of the most important decisions a school board can make, outside of passing a budget, and we would encourage anyone and everyone who lives or works within the district’s geographic area to make an appearance at the meeting.

It is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. today inside the Marquette Senior High School Library.

The alignment proposed by the district’s Strategic Planning Facilities Subcommittee back in August would change a lot of things we’ve all grown accustomed to.

It would utilize all the district’s current elementary schools – Cherry Creek, Sandy Knoll and Superior Hills – along with the Graveraet School as kindergarten through fifth grade buildings. Bothwell Middle School would house sixth through eighth grades and Marquette Senior High School would house ninth through 12th grade.

It would also move the Marquette Alternative High School, currently housed within Graveraet, to the Vandenboom Early Childhood Development Center, which could displace the Marquette County YMCA’s early childhood program.

The committee said this configuration would add the most instructional space than any other configuration, with 23 instructional classrooms – which could be used as traditional classrooms or as special education rooms – for a total of 72 elementary instructional classrooms.

The district has long had a problem with overcrowded elementary schools, with some building principals telling the board that instruction takes place in hallways or closets because there is simply no space.

We agree the district needs to do something about this perennial problem. Every year, the board moves a grade here and a grade there, placing a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.

We believe any solution must be long-term. The district and its students can not afford one more day of being crammed into buildings that don’t fit them.

Whether you have kids within the district or not, it is a boon to any area to have a thriving public school system. Great schools attract young people and families, which in turn grows an economy, benefiting us all.

This meeting is sure to have an impact on the Marquette school system for years to come. It’s important that the board hear the opinion of all within the district – not just staff and parents, but everyone – before it makes its final decision.