WILMINGTON – Late last week a deal was struck between the Wilmington School District and the Wilmington Teachers Association in which the Wilmington High School spring athletic coaches would be paid a prorated amount of 75 percent of their one-year stipend.
Back on April 21st, Governor Baker shut down Massachusetts schools for the remaining of the school year. Five days later, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association canceled the entire spring sports season, thus leaving the question of whether or not the coaches would be paid.
According to sources, as of May 24th, five other Middlesex League towns including Melrose, Burlington, Winchester, Belmont and Woburn agreed to pay one hundred percent of their coaches' salaries, while Stoneham, Wakefield and Lexington were still in negotiations and several others had agreed to a percentage.
Other towns like Peabody, Cambridge, Lowell, Revere, Rockport, Swampscott and Beverly have all agreed to pay their coaches in full.
Jen Fidler, the President of the WTA, sent an email to the Town Crier on Monday afternoon confirming the agreement between the two sides, which had been ongoing for several weeks.
"The memorandum of agreement that addressed the spring coaches' salaries covered many other components pertaining to our district's remote learning work — for example, educator evaluation during the COVID-19 closure, the implementation of new learning based on DESE guidance for Phase III of remote learning, etc. — and was only finalized this past week," she wrote in the email. "The WTA Executive Board ratified this agreement at its meeting on Tuesday, May 26, and it was signed by Dr. Brand and Chair Bryson later in the week.
“While the WTA had hoped to get the spring coaches 100 percent of their contracted stipends, the Association understood the School Committee’s position and settled with them collectively for 75 percent."
Late Tuesday night, Wilmington School Committee Chairperson Jennifer Bryson returned an email to the Town Crier and she also confirmed the agreement.
"The spring coaching stipends were a part of negotiations on remote learning which were focused on expectations for students and staff," she wrote in an email. "The spring coaches will be receiving prorated stipends at 75 percent for the spring season. 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."
She later added that, "We as a School Committee are pleased with the final outcome and look forward to the continuing education and support of our students.”
An email was sent to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brand on Monday but was not returned before the Town Crier went to press.
Back on May 26th when the Town Crier thought there was an agreement, he denied that, and replied, “The entire process of negotiations has centered around the remote learning plan in accordance with the latest guidance put out by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Any decision around these stipends has been secondary to this larger process and has not been the focal point of the discussions."
During the negotiation period, the public was asked to send in their opinions to Bryson. The Town Crier received some of the letters which were in full support of the coaches getting paid in full, while our social media sites also had overwhelming support for the coaches as well.
The Town Crier also reached out a number of the coaches, but they chose not to voice their opinions publicly. However, girls' tennis coach Matt Hackett had this to say on Twitter after the agreement was finally reached.
"The support that WHS coaches received over the past few weeks from the community was overwhelming and humbling. Thank you parents for your support. We can now turn our attention back to where it has always been and where it will always be which is on our amazing student-athletes."