Saunders named MAPS superintendent

MARQUETTE – The Marquette school board voted unanimously Monday to name Bill Saunders superintendent of Marquette Area Public Schools.

“Even though we’ve only had seven months of experience with Mr. Saunders, he’s really accomplished some great things,” said board President Rich Rossway, citing the adoption of a long-term grade alignment, the passage of the district’s operational millage renewal request and the continuation of the strategic planning process.

Saunders, who has served as interim superintendent since June, was given a three-year contract with a base wage of $108,000. He will be given a 1 percent raise in the first year and a 2 percent raise in each of the following two years.

Rossway said following the board’s evaluation of Saunders, which rated him as “highly effective,” board members said it would be an unwise use of taxpayer dollars to conduct an external search to fill the position permanently.

“I think, early on, we all figured … that’s probably what we would have to do,” Rossway said. “Well, as we’ve all experienced this positive, highly effective superintendent, I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that we feel that money would not be spent in the best interest of the district and would not be fiscally responsible, especially when you look at the number of other superintendent positions being open around the U.P.”

Other area school districts operating with interim superintendents include Gwinn and Ishpeming. The Negaunee Public Schools superintendent also recently announced his intention to retire.

Saunders said he is excited to continue moving forward as the permanent superintendent.

“I’m pretty happy,” Saunders said. “We’re looking to grow the district, we finally have a grade alignment that’s going to be long term and sustainable, we’re looking at implementing the one-to-one computer initiative for our fifth-grade students starting next year, there’s a lot of positive energy for our sinking fund, a lot of positive energy toward our strategic planning. …

“We’re happy with the combined effort. It’s not me. It’s the board, it’s our teaching staff, it’s MAPS employees and its the community. That’s great for everyone to be working toward those common goals”

The one-to-one computer initiative would provide a computer for every fifth-grade student.

Saunders was named interim superintendent following the departure of former MAPS Superintendent Deb Veiht, who left to become superintendent of the Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Services Agency.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.