WILMINGTON, MA — Last week, the Wilmington School Committee and Wilmington Teachers’ Association came to an agreement over payment of coaches’ stipends for the spring sports season.
“The spring coaches will be receiving prorated stipends at 75% for the spring season,” explained School Committee Chair Jenn Bryson. “Given the cancellation of the spring sports season, the School Committee agreed to pay the coaches a prorated stipend based on our understanding that some work for the spring season occurred prior to the closure and cancellation of all spring sports. We value our coaches and all the work they do for the student athletes of the Wilmington Public Schools.”
“Although the Wilmington Teachers’ Association would have preferred for the spring coaches receive 100% of their stipends, the Association understood the School Committee’s position, and in the end, we settled with them collectively for 75%,” added Wilmington Teachers’ Association President Jennifer Fidler.
The Shawsheen Tech, of which Wilmington is a member community, decided to pay its spring coaches 33.33% of its stipends.
What took so long to reach an agreement?
According to Bryson, the spring coaching stipends were part of a much larger negotiation with the Teachers’ Association over a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that spelled out expectations for students and staff surrounding remote learning.
“Negotiation takes time as the District Administration, School Committee and Teachers’ Association work to lay out plans that are in the best interest of our students and staff,” said Bryson. “There were many areas that needed to be addressed in the MOA and we as a School Committee are pleased with the final outcome and look forward to the continuing education and support of our students.”
“The new agreement not only addressed our Appendix C stipends for extracurricular advisors and coaching staff but also covered changes in working conditions resulting from the late April guidance from DESE to involve new learning for students, as well as from multiple directives regarding the provision of student support services coming from both the state and federal level,” agreed Fidler. “As you can imagine, these changes were difficult to anticipate in general, but in light of the global pandemic, there were additional concerns and components to be collectively worked out and compromised.”
Fidler stressed that the school district, Association and community could not have envisioned the situation they currently find themselves in prior to March.
“There was no contingency plan in place, and one had to be built on the fly. We needed time to ensure that as many of the challenges that we could potentially face in the remote learning and teaching world were addressed,” added Fidler. “Even something as simple and seemingly insignificant as arranging for people to get physical pay stubs in a virtual world had to be considered—never mind the larger and significantly more important issues around staff (or their families) becoming ill, balancing the education of their own children, getting back into the buildings safely to pick up curriculum, closing down classrooms/offices for the summer, assessing students at different grade levels given the multitude of factors to consider during a health crisis, and more.”
“Crucial details could have been missed had this process gone too hastily,” continued Fidler. “And as with any negotiation, both sides come away with wins and losses, both sides had to give and take, both sides needed to ensure their fundamental needs were being met—that is the essence of collective bargaining. So in the end, this agreement is something the WTA can live with while providing a potential starting point should negotiations for remote learning or a hybrid approach be necessary for the fall.”
The school district was unable to provide Wilmington Apple with a copy of the Memorandum Of Agreement (MOA) at this time.
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