W-M Schools to eliminate four-day kindergarten

The Watertown-Mayer School Board approved several items last week that will affect the Watertown-Mayer Primary School, including the promotion of Marnie Pauly from Dean of Students to Principal, and a move to five-day, all-day kindergarten for all students.

The elimination of the traditional four-day kindergarten option in the Watertown-Mayer district is the result of a bill passed by the Minnesota state legislature authorizing the state to fully fund five-day kindergarten. Five-day kindergarten will now receive the same amount of state aid as Grades 1 through 6, eliminating the need to charge parents a fee for the five-day kindergarten option.

Pauly’s recommendation to the school board to move to five-day kindergarten for all students was based on feedback from parents. An informational letter was sent out to 194 parents asking for feedback. Only 21 families responded, and of those, 14 actually preferred four-day kindergarten, five preferred the five-day option, and two were open to either choice.

However, based on the fact that only 14 families actually responded in favor of being in a four-day class, Pauly said the numbers simply didn’t warrant a full four-day class.

“As of right now, we don’t have enough interest in Watertown to fill a four-day class,” Pauly told the school board during the Jan. 6 meeting.

Pauly said that even though the four-day option is being eliminated, the school will do everything it can to make sure the young students aren’t over-burdened.

“I spoke with a number of parents, and the main concern seems to be that the kids are still really little and they’re really tired,” Pauly said. “I reassured them that our rest time in the fall is a lot longer than our rest time in the spring. We’re very aware of that and we’re aware of what the kids need, and we’ll work with them to make sure their student is comfortable in an all-day, every-day situation.”

Superintendent Dave Marlette also indicated that just because kindergarten classes will officially be five-day classes doesn’t mean there can’t be some flexibility with families that still have concerns about the switch.

“If we have a parent that just absolutely feels their student can’t go five days right away in the fall, we’ll work with them on that fifth day,” Marlette said.

In a separate measure, the school board approved the promotion of Pauly from her current role to a full-fledged principal. Principals have more authority and power than a dean of students, including the ability to perform evaluations, which is one of the main reasons for the promotion.

Pauly was hired by the district in 2012, and recently finished her degree work to become a principal.

“For a number of reasons, it’s very important to the district to move her to principal,” Marlette said. “No. 1, she does a super job, and with her degree work, I’d recommend her just for that reason. No. 2, we have a big need in our district to have enough personnel, with the reductions in administration that we’ve done, to do evaluations. Having Marnie as a principal, where she can do evaluations, will help greatly.”


In other business:

• By unanimous vote, the School Board elected John McCain as the board’s chairman once again. The board also unanimously elected Jennifer Janikula, who has served as treasurer the past couple years, as the vice chair, and elected Jeff Jackson to take on the treasurer position. Jennifer Hoover was once again elected as clerk.

• The board approved an agreement for the 2014 calendar year with the Carver County Sheriff’s Office to provide off-duty services for the district at various events or for other needs that may arise.