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MAPS board approves budget, construction bids

MARQUETTE — At its Monday meeting, the Marquette Area Public Schools Board of Education approved construction bids, budgets and calendars for the upcoming summer recess and fall semester.

Superintendent Zack Sedgwick said about 3,200 students were enrolled at MAPS during the 2023-24 school year. Sedgwick projected the 2024-25 year enrollment to be in line with the “status quo” since, as of Tuesday, the district will be graduating 278 seniors and gaining 278 kindergarteners.

The current expectation is for 10 sections of kindergarten and four sections of junior kindergarten — but these numbers are subject to change, he said.

Then, the board reviewed the current MAPS construction projects.

The Career Technical Education roof must be replaced at MSHS, Graveraet Elementary requires more outdoor learning areas and Superior Hills needs more “natural playground features,” GEI Consultants representative Isaac Roberts said.

The board unanimously approved a motion to award the Graveraet project to Ultra Construction, the Superior Hills project to Premeaau Construction and the MSHS project to Bell Roofing. The final bid was specified to be in the amount of $417,000 with a contingency allowance of $10,000.

“It’s an enormous amount of roof to replace, there’s multiple layers, it’s thick,” Sedgwick said. “… It’s quite an expensive project and the bid that we received from Bell Roofing was very reasonable especially when compared to the other bid.”

Construction is set to start once school is out of session and is scheduled to be completely finished by Aug. 30. If, due to delays in the shipping of necessary products for construction, the work needs to be pushed back further than Aug. 30, all construction work will be done outside of school hours to protect students.

Other action items included the unanimous adoption of the three-year calendar extending from 2024-25 to 2026-27.

While examining the 2024-25 Marquette-Alger RESA budget, board member Jason Zdunek pointed out $15 million listed under “other support.”

“It would be nice to get a little more (information) with such a large number,” he said.

Sedgwick said it was most likely for MARESA’s Talent Together but that he would reach out for clarification. Talent Together is a Michigan program that assists education students in becoming teachers.

Any feedback would need to be given to MARESA by June 1 which doesn’t leave enough time to postpone the vote.

Ultimately, the adoption of the budget was approved 6-1 with Glenn Sarka opposed.

The last two action items approved unanimously were the renewal of the district’s MHSAA membership for 2024-25 as well as its Michigan Association of School Boards membership and legal trust fund.

On the MASB, board member James Hewitt said, “This annual renewal cost is pretty minimal in terms of the services we actually take advantage of and receive from them, if I’m not mistaken.”

Sedgwick confirmed and said, “MASB provides us with a great service and we consult with them often.”

As for public comment, Margaret Brumm made an appearance. She is a longtime Marquette resident, intellectual property attorney and an outspoken advocate against the MSHS Sentinels rebrand.

In a continued attempt to recall board members Jennifer Ray and Jennifer Klipp, Brumm said she is appealing the rejection of her initial recall petition at a Marquette Circuit Court hearing on Friday at 3:45 p.m. with Judge Andrew Griffin presiding.

She further requested an explanation for an approximately $20,000 charge found in the board’s March invoices from a business law firm with the note “professional services — embezzlement.”

“In my professional experience, it’s unusual for the victim of a crime to hire their own lawyer,” she said.

Brumm also claimed that she knew when she saw the new Sentinels logo that it was made “not by a human but by artificial intelligence.”

She provided no evidence for such a claim but said she could tell due to the “symmetry of the logo.”

“As such, since it was done by a computer, under U.S. copyright law, the design itself is not protected,” she claimed.

According to www.copyright.gov, “If the artwork was created as a work made for hire, the employer or commissioning party is considered the author and owns the copyright to the work rather than the artist.”

At the meeting, board member comments did not acknowledge Brumm’s request or her accusation. Instead, they thanked student representatives Callie Tonella and Siena Goodney for their service on the board.

“Enjoy this summer,” Sarka told the student reps. “Don’t work that extra shift. Go see the sunset, go see the sunrise. You don’t want to look back and say, ‘I missed my year after my senior year.'”

When contacted by The Mining Journal, the designer of the logo, Matt Sia — an MSHS alum and the creative director at Pearlfisher, a graphic design company — refuted Brumm’s claim. He said that he sketched the idea by hand, then created it digitally using standard graphic design software “crafting every detail from scratch.”

“I did not use AI to create this logo, nor have I used AI to create any artwork for clients or, in this case, the local community of Marquette,” Sia said.

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