Before the end of the year, the Watertown-Mayer school board met one last time to discuss a few items. One of these items was deciding whether to host the boys soccer co-op or to have Watertown-Mayer establish their own program, and the other was an update on the new website scheduled to be ready by 2020.
Paul Szymanski, activities director, came forward to present on the boys soccer co-op options. According to Szymanski, the first option, which would be WM becoming the host school, would be a simple transition. They would have to file some new paperwork and prepare the schedule for all the schools within the co-op. Busing the players would also be conducted through the school.
As for the second option, that would form a new boys co-op.
“If I were a betting man, more than likely what is going to happen would be option number two,” said Szymanski. “One of our schools in the co-op is leaving and forming its own, affecting our current set up.”
According to Szymanski, the reason behind the changes simply comes from numbers. In 2019, 38 out of the 57 athletes were Royals, with the other schools in the co-op being NYA, Mayer Lutheran, Glencoe-Silver lake, and Lester Prairie. The numbers, according to Szymanski, have been going up for the Royals as well, and this makes things like transportation more complicated as the buses travel to pick up all the athletes, as well as communication between team members within the co-op.
“With the majority of the students here, it would be easier to run the logistics and the program,” said Szymanski.
Glencoe-Silver Lake is already planning on forming their own co-op according to Szymanski, meaning they would leave, and that change will direct the school. For now, there is some preliminary work to complete before that depending on what changes. Final approval would take place in February, once Glencoe-Silver Lake approve their own plan to make their own co-op.
Hunter Feldt asked Szymanski what the benefit would be to hosting a co-op. Transportation was the first answer Syzmanski gave. As many of the players are under driving age, roughly 22, even if some of them carpool, a bus would still have to go out and pick up some of the students.
After hearing the options, the board approved Szymanski to move forward with preparing to create a co-op for Watertown-Mayer. Final approval for a new co-op or hosting a co-op will be official in February of 2020, but for now preliminary work will be started for either option.
Next were a few updates regarding the progress of the new website. Natasha Monsaas-Daly, director of information and learning technology, has had the chance to work with a “sandbox” version of the new Blackboard-based website for a few months, teaching herself and the staff how to use it effectively. As such, she brought a small preview of the new site to the board meeting.
Monsaas-Daly first emphasized that the demo shown at the board meeting cannot be accessed by the public as of yet, and isn’t fully functional as a “shell”. The day after the board meeting it was scheduled to go to the marketing committee to receive feedback before going through more tests.
The tabs of the current website have been condensed into only seven categories, and they only appear in one of them, instead of a few tabs appearing in multiple tabs. Say you want to check on a specific school. In the current website, you navigate several tabs in order to get what you’re looking for. In the demo, Monsaas-Daly had it set up that the schools would first have their own web page, and then there’s a list to the left that allows users to choose what they are looking for.
“Our search is better, because now it’s actually connected with Google,” said Monsaas-Daly. “We will have as many social media connections on the right side of the page as well.”
There will always be a carousel of photos on all school pages and the main pages. School staff will also have the ability to send out notifications, such as weather alerts or school closings, via the website. While not implemented at the time of the demo, there will also always be a calendar of upcoming events for residents to check out. Each school will have their own calendars as well, and users will have options on how they want to view the calendar. Looking for a band concert? You can look at the calendar specifically for that. There will also be the option to get notifications of events on smartphones once implemented, and there will be maps available showing where the event is taking place.
Despite the progress, Monsaas-Daly stated that the website isn’t quite done yet, and she wouldn’t personally feel comfortable releasing it just after the break is over.
“I’d like more people to get the chance to look at it and give feedback,” she said.
However, the website will have a live version soon, and the board was very excited to hear about the current progress.