Mayer accepts job offer in Watertown

Mayer accepts job offer in Watertown by David Lias Vermillion Superintendent Bob Mayer has decided to end a relationship with the local school district that totals more than two decades.

Mayer was offered the job of superintendent of the Watertown School District on Feb 2, and accepted.

He will officially tender his resignation to the Vermillion School Board at its meeting Feb. 9. He will stay on through the school year, until the end of his contract June 30.

His first day on the job in Watertown is July 1.

"The Watertown School Board met this morning (Monday) and made the offer," Mayer said. "The Vermillion board knew that I was interviewing there."

The Watertown School District's enrollment is approximately 4,000 in grades K-12. That's roughly double of Vermillion's public school enrollment.

"It has also under its auspices the Lake Area Technical Institute," Mayer said. "That's run by the Watertown School Board.

"It's one of the state's really good schools and it's significantly larger and it will be a different challenge, and I look rather forward to that," he said.

The Watertown School District isn't suffering the financial problems that currently plague the Vermillion district.

"The budget situation is significantly different," he said. "There is an adequate fund balance in Watertown and they're not looking at any need to opt-out."

Mayer, a Wakonda native, taught and served as assistant principal in Vermillion. He left Vermillion and was serving as superintendent of the Lennox School District when he was hired here seven years ago.

Mayer said he pursued the Watertown job, in part, because he likely wouldn't experience too many more chances to administer a larger South Dakota school.

"I've always wanted to be a superintendent at a school that size, and it's the only real opportunity I've ever had to do it," he said.

Mayer noted that he's worked for 21 years in the Vermillion district in various capacities.

Lately, the superintendent's

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job has been challenging. Fund balances and enrollments are dwindling, and the Vermillion School Board's attempt at a $600,000 annual opt-out last fall failed.

"I'm not bitter about the opt-out failing ? but I'd like to be remembered as someone who helped make the school district what it is instead of the guy who helped dismantle it," Mayer said.

The school board has had to cut 25 jobs over the past four years and eliminated six programs entirely and partially cut 15 others.

"If the state Legislature doesn't fix the school funding formula � which they aren't going to do � and if our enrollment doesn't stop declining in sizeable chunks, we're going to have a lot more funding issues to deal with," he said.

Mayer has had to administer approximately $1 million in cuts to the school budget over the past four years.

"It's hard to keep doing that, and I don't have a lot of years left as a superintendent," he said. "This was just an opportunity that came my way."

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