WILMINGTON, MA — Superintendent Mary DeLai informed the Wilmington School Committee at their July 29th Meeting that the North and West Intermediate Schools will not have a school resource officer assigned to them for the 2015-2016.
The change was attributed to staffing cuts within the Wilmington Police Department.
“The Police Department has experienced several staffing reductions beyond its control and must make personnel adjustments to accommodate those shortfalls,” wrote Wilmington Police Chief Michael Begonis in a letter Superintendent DeLai shared with committee members. “I expect the current department staffing levels will remain prohibitive of maintaining three full-time School Resource Officer positions within the School District.”
Officer Dan Cadigan, who had been serving as the School Resource Officer for the North and West, will be moving to the High School to serve as its School Resource Officer. Cadigan had been alternating days between the North and West.
Detective Brian Gillis, who had been serving as the School Resource Officer at Wilmington High School, will be replacing the retired Detective James White in the department’s Investigations Unit.
Officer Anthony Fiore will remain the School Resource Officer at Wilmington Middle School.
Superintendent DeLai and the School Committee were understanding of the situation.
“If you look at our region, Wilmington was very fortunate to have had three school resource officers as most school districts only have one,” said DeLai. “In this case, the needs of the general community were greater than the two school’s needs.”
While DeLai believed the presence of school resource officers had a positive impact on students at the North and West, she says there’s not a huge level of concern over the position going unfilled. She expects Safety Officer Brian Moon to continue to be responsive to those schools’ requests for assistance, especially in the absence of an SRO.
DeLai also informed the Committee that she was negotiating with the teachers union to create an Assistant Principal position at the West and one at the North. These would be stipend positions for existing teachers. The Assistant Principal would step into the role as Principal when the actual Principal was absent. DeLai believes this is especially timely given the reduction of the school resource officer.
Chairwoman Peggy Kane was happy that Chief Begonis gave DeLai a proper “heads up,” nearly two months before the start of school.
“We thank him for doing the best that he could,” said Kane. “It’s really gratifying that the schools have a strong relationship with the Wilmington Police Department.”
At their meeting last week, the Wilmington School Committee unanimously approved a tentative 3-year agreement with the Administrative Assistants Union. The contract calls for a 7.25% increase over the next 3 years — 2.25% in 2015-2016; 2.5% in 2016-2017; and 2.5% in 2017-2018.
“The role of the administrative assistant (once referred to as ‘secretary’) has grown over the years,” said Superintendent DeLai. “I am happy to provide them with this compensation package.”
Besides taking one position out of the unit, language changes in the contract were mostly minor and of a housekeeping nature.
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