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School Committee Unanimously Declines Possible Pay Increase

School Committee members rejected being considered for a $1,800 stipend for municipal board members in Chelmsford that may be discussed at Special Town Meeting.

While the subject of returning stipends to elected officials may be on the warrant at this fall’s Special Town Meeting, on Tuesday night the School Committee asked not to be a part of that discussion.

In a unanimous vote, the board told Board of Selectman vice chairman Matt Hanson not to include the School Committee if the issue of returning stipends is part of Special Town Meeting this year.

Hanson came to the board to gauge opinion on where the School Committee stood, noting for the record that the stipends had been removed shortly after the global financial crisis four years ago, due in large part to health insurance benefits for the elected officials.

While Hanson said that it would be unlikely any requested return of stipends would include insurance benefits, which could become lifetime benefits if a person served for more than ten years, he said that it was a possibility that the topic of stipends without benefits could arise, with $1,800 going to board members at-large and $2,000 going to chairmen.

School Committee member Nick DiSilvio felt uncomfortable taking a pay raise given recent requests by the School Committee for Chelmsford Public School staff to tighten their belts in recent contract negotiations.

“I don’t think it’s prudent for me to accept any kind of stipend,” he said. “I consider my position here as being a public servant. I’m not here to make a buck, I’m here to serve.”

School Committee member Evelyn Thoren opposed the measure due to her belief that $1,800 would be a marginal incentive for any potential board members given the amount of hours that are required to serve.

“In some other nearby towns, board members will get $27,000 or $35,000,” she said. “When I tell them this, they will look at you like you’re crazy, but that’s not what I got into it for.”

Thoren said she would feel comfortable if the discussion did go to Town Meeting, stating that the board could always refuse the stipend in a motion of their own.

Ultimately, School Committee vice chairman Michael Rigney, who was leading the meeting, agreed with the sentiment of his colleagues.

“It doesn’t look like things are getting better in Chelmsford,” he said. “We’d be remiss to ask for a significant raise.”

Iron Mike August 10, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Hurray! Leadership by EXAMPLE! So rare these days.
Tom Gilroy August 10, 2012 at 11:57 AM
27-35k are you serious? Stipends breed insurance coverage and additional unnessary cost to financially strapped cities and towns. Three cheers for the School Committee!!
Maria Karafelis August 10, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Funny, I was just having a conversation about stipends with an out of town relative just yesterday. I couldn't agree with you more, and Nick you nailed it.
Phil stanway August 10, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Well said Nick. I know of dozens of people who volunteer and it costs them money but they feel it is worth it to give back to a town and country that gives so much.Stipends are not needed.
Muriel McGrann August 10, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Thankyou NICK .There are somethings in life money cant buy.
John Doe August 10, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Don't worry, they are town officials, their stipends will come in the form being able to build offices that no one wants on town parks and wetland!
Iron Mike August 11, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Roland? Is that you?
Jeff Apostolakes August 12, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Mr Doe.... Amazing you can't applaud or give credit where credit is due. The same tune is way to old. There are always other options available.
Nick DeSilvio August 14, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Hey Doe-Doe its people like you that makes working for the town sometimes difficult but its OK because your opinions and comments don't EVER count in my book. Folks thank for the kind words but its basically the common sense thing to do. To be honest even if these were good times I wouldn't support the stipends. You are either a public servent or your not. If you want to be paid by the town apply for a job.

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