MAPS water situation resolved

Bill Saunders, superintendent, MAPS

MARQUETTE — Remedies to alleviate the lead water situation at Marquette Area Public Schools continue to be implemented.

Results from recent testing conducted by Marquette-based TriMedia Environmental & Engineering showed some fixtures at several buildings in the district — Marquette Senior and Alternative high schools, Bothwell Middle School, and Graveraet and Sandy Knoll elementary schools — had lead levels above the federally recommended threshold of 15 parts per billion.

The goal is for the district to meet the strictest threshold of 5 ppb and to ensure it has safe and healthy drinking water, said MAPS Superintendent Bill Saunders, who gave an update at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.

Phase two of the implementation plan has been completed, he said.

“Phase two was really to identify all the drinking sources and change out the fixtures, so I think we added 25 or 26 new drinking fixtures,” Saunders said.

The school district then entered into the third phase, which focused on looking at all other fixtures that might have potable water, he said. These included lunchroom, special ed and home economics classroom fixtures and similar areas.

Also, he said 41 under-the-sink-mounted filters were expected to be in place by the end of the week.

“That also includes nurses’ stations, areas where we dispense meds, those types of things,” Saunders said. “Then we also have new signage for these areas. We still want to use cold water — not hot water — out of those taps. Filters are going to work better with the cold water, so we’ll have signage that those are going to be filtered through the cold water only.”

After those are filtered, the next part of the phase will deal with looking at fixtures in each of those areas, he said.

“It could have been a fixture issue,” Saunders said. “It could have been a piping issue in some of those situations. Filters — we’re going to take care of both. Now we’re going to go back to areas where it is strictly a fixture issue, and we’ll begin changing out fixtures.”

That will involve elementary classroom fixtures and the like.

“Of course, we’ll continue with the testing program so we’ll be able to prove that, yes, just by changing a fixture we were able to get those sinks down to the 5 ppb that we’re looking to, and we’ll continue to test the filtered drinking stations and those filtered sinks as well to get us down there,” Saunders said.

He said he “feels pretty good” about where the district is at this stage, with no negative feedback received from the schools’ principals.

Saunders also provided an update on class sizes.

Another teacher was added at Superior Hills Elementary School to bring down the class sizes in fourth and fifth grades so there now are three sections in fourth grade and three sections in fifth grade, Saunders said.

The average class size at Sandy Knoll Elementary School is 23.73 students, with Cherry Creek and Graveraet elementary schools at 23.33 each, and Superior Hills at 20.61, he said.

Saunders noted the district still has a number of “high areas,” with Cherry Creek’s fifth grade having 85 students for three sections, for over 28 students per section.

Bothwell Middle School also has a few high classes in the core academics, he said, with about 30 students per section in sixth grade, just over 29 in seventh grade and 29 students in eighth grade.