Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 Superintendent Keith Laser and school committee members decided June 10 to pay a portion of stipends for coaches and teachers leading extracurricular activities. Laser said he had decided before the spring sports season, the CSD would not pay the stipends.
When Gov. Janet Mills declared a state of emergency, the orders dictated that all hourly school employees should be paid, but there was nothing covering payout to staff with stipends, said Laser. Boothbay Harbor resident Tom Perkins said, due to this, many school districts have faced the dilemma and boards that have decided not to pay any stipends look quite bad.
“I think we're much better than that,” said Perkins. “The coaches have already done so much work in preparation for the season and they could have done so much more for our student-athletes if the superintendent hadn't cut them off at the knees early on by telling them that they weren't going to get paid anything at all. You still have the opportunity to do the right thing by at least voting them partial stipends …”
Laser defended his decision earlier in the year. He said he made the call before sports started and before the broadness of the issue was known. However, he also said contracts required coaches to be informed no less than 30 days before any major changes, like cancellation of the season.
“We notified them as soon as we could, nonetheless that was only 10 days before their seasons started,” Laser said in an email. The portion will cover the time between the notification and the date coaches should have been notified.
After the meeting, Laser decided that, in addition to coaches, he would extend a partial payout to teachers with stipend contracts like band, chorus and student council. Laser said the total cost is just under $25,000.
Special services, hirings, retirement and two resignations
The board learned longtime music teacher Genie O'Connell will retire this year and Boothbay Region Elementary School educational technicians Jean Edmondson and Paige Davis are resigning.
With retirements and resignations up over last year, AOS 98 Special Services Director Lisa Smith announced all special services jobs have been filled. “I'm super proud of my folks and all the work they put in during this time. They continue to make plans to support some kids over the summer …”
Smith said Maine Department of Education has approved in-person services for students with special needs. Smith said DOE does not fully endorse the special services, but understands that many students with special needs need direct contact with educators.
“It's really the way the governor is going as far as opening things up for those who need it,” Smith said. “We've fallen behind on a lot of our evaluations and we're hoping to make up some lost ground through July and August as we enter into the next school year.”
The board voted unanimously for the CSD to be fiscal agent for Southport Central School's federal title funds and authorizing Laser to apply for and expend federal funds and grants with no extra cost to the CSD. The board approved three second-year probationary contracts for Leanne Burnham, Boothbay Region High School guidance counselor; Brittany Rothwell, special education teacher; and Jeremy Phelps, fifth and sixth grade language arts teacher. The board also approved Laser's recommendation to hire Matthew Lindemann as BRES assistant principal and Kathie Barton Stephenson as fourth through sixth grade composite room teacher.