Published March 26, 2020


NORTH READING — The School Committee voted to approve the payment of salaries for both salaried and hourly employees through April 7 during a special virtual committee meeting on March 18.

“We made the decision early on that people needed to be kept whole,” Superintendent Dr. Patrick Daly said.

School Committee members requested specific information from Daly and Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Michael Connelly regarding who would be covered by these wages.

Stipends not included

Daly stated that wages would include the standard salaried and hourly wages paid to teachers and staff. The wages would not include stipends, such as coaching positions.

“While I am in favor of that, I do think it merits getting a little more information as well about what the contractual obligations are,” School Committee Chairman Scott Buckley said.

Connelly noted that salaried staff, as well as some hourly staff, continue to work during the extended closure.

Daly said substitutes will be compensated for work through March 13.

“Do you happen to know what other neighboring communities are doing?” committee member Dyana Boutwell asked.

Daly stated that other districts are holding everyone harmless for three weeks.

“There are additional conversations that we are having daily about other employees that are indirectly working with the school, such as bus drivers, and we need to think about those positions as well,” Daly said. “There’s certainly consensus about keeping people whole for the next 30 days.”

School Committee Vice Chairman Janene Imbriano asked why the district would be paying the bus drivers’ salaries instead of the bus company, North Reading Transportation (NRT).

Connelly clarified that discussions are ongoing with other districts, as well as NRT.

“Other bus companies have been reaching out to school districts across the state that they have contracts with and requesting if there is a way they can work something out where at least the labor portion of the contract (is paid),” Connelly said.

If drivers are laid off it is feared they will find other jobs and then there would not be enough drivers available when school resumes, Connelly stated. He noted that the district was not seeking a vote on bus drivers’ salaries at this time.

Committee member Rich McGowan stated that he felt making decisions beyond April 7 was premature, but he wanted to make sure everyone was well taken care of until then.

Salaries in the FY20 budget

Buckley added that the requested salaries are currently in the budget so there would be no overdraw of funds at this time.

The committee agreed that in the event of an extended closure the payment of wages would be reassessed at a later date.