LOWELL -- School Committee member David Conway blasted administration officials Wednesday night about the procedures and timeline for paying athletic coaches their stipends.
"Anyone sitting up here (in the administration), if Friday came around and you didn't get your paycheck, would you be happy about it? Shame on us. We have a responsibility to pay these people on time," Conway said, adding he reached out to City Solicitor Christine O'Connor for guidance and she agreed to look into the matter.
Deputy Superintendent of Finance and Operations Jay Lang said that the issue involves pre-payment of services if coaches are to be paid ahead of time, "which I disagree with." He said he splits the season into three sections for payment purposes. "Technically, by contract, the coach is receiving a stipend for completing a season. We don't have to pay them until the season is complete, but to be nice, we break up the payment into three installments."
Lang said that the final payment is sent out after the coaches close out the season, including the return of all uniforms and athletic equipment.
"I don't pay them individually when the season is done. It would be frantic to try and track this. It's an automated payroll. We always schedule the third payment the week before the next season begins (meaning coaches of winter sports will get their final payment the week before spring sports begin). They have to turn in supplies and close out the season before they are compensated, but all coaches will receive their last check the week before the next season starts unless someone hasn't completed their closeout. The bigger issue is some coaches or committee members want to see payment go out at a point I'm not comfortable sending them out."
Gendron suggested sending out the initial payment before the season starts as a goodwill gesture (Lang said that winter sports coaches received their first payment in January). "There is a risk, but the risk may be low and it may be worth it in exchange for a delay on the third payment."
School Superintendent Jean Franco said the final day of school in Lowell will be Wednesday, June 18 barring any more snow days.
Lowell High School graduation will take place on Wednesday, June 4 at 6 p.m. at Tsongas Center and the commencement speaker will be UMass Lowell chancellor Marty Meehan, a Lowell High alumnus.