WILMINGTON, MA — The Wilmington School Committee had some unexpected guests at its meeting on Wednesday night. Approximately 65 teachers packed the High School’s Large Instruction Room to publicly show support for the Wilmington Teachers Association (WTA) bargaining team as it negotiates a new contract with the School Committee. The current contract expires on June 30.
Under public comments, WTA President Robert Mauriello urged the School Committee to support “fair language” and “a salary scale that would bring our pay up to that of comparable communities.”
“When compared to similar communities, the teachers before you are paid significantly less,” began Mauriello. “We are proud of the education we offer the students of Wilmington… If you are proud of the job we do, as you say you are, our salary shouldn’t be near the lowest paid in the area.”
“One of the guiding principles in the FY18 school budget is ‘a commitment to hiring and retaining employees,'” continued Mauriello. “Being paid near the bottom of similar communities is not the way to do this. As elected officials — the voices of the community – it is your job to fight for and support the teachers.”
Mauriello reminded the Wilmington School Committee of “the Wilmington Way,” defined as “taking care of our own and one another.” The Wilmington Way creates schools that “teachers want to teach in, kids want to attend, and parents want to support.” The Wilmington Way would dictate that the School Committee take care of its teachers.
The remarks received a standing ovation from the teachers in the room, as well as some of the School Committee members.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s most recent publicly available data (2014-2015 Teacher Salaries Report), Wilmington’s average teacher salary ranks below all but one of its neighbors:
- Burlington — $90,475
- Andover — $81,211
- Billerica — $74,345
- Tewksbury — $73,944
- North Reading — $73,771
- Woburn — $73,237
- Wilmington — $71,281
- Reading — $70,262
School Committee Chair Steve Bjork offered a cordial response and acknowledged the difficulties of collective bargaining.
“It’s very, very difficult to sit on the other site of the table from people you like, respect and admire,” began Bjork. “We’re looking at very, very difficult fiscal constraints.”
“I promise you the School Committee is interested in parity. We want to get you where you should be and we do recognize where you’re at,” continued Bjork. “We’re going to continue our negotiations to reach a mutually beneficial contract.”
Bjork finished his remarks by thanking all the teachers for coming out to signal their support of the Wilmington Teachers Association, noting “the School Committee has heard you and the taxpayers have heard you.”
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