EAST PROVIDENCE — The long, drawn-out talks over coaches’ compensation reached a climax Friday, Dec. 14, as East Providence High School coaches agreed as a group to suspend their participation in the just-begun winter sport season.
The coaches, many of whom mentor in multiple seasons and sports, are upset about not having been paid for their efforts in the fall. According to sources, they were originally supposed to be compensated about a month ago, or Nov. 16. Two pay-periods later, Dec. 14, they still haven’t been paid, which led to Friday’s action.
The Post has learned the East Providence Budget Commission discussed the matter in executive session at the completion of its meeting Thursday, Dec. 13. No specifics about the session were released for public consumption, but sources indicated the commission is prepared to pay the coaches in some form, though not likely until discussing the matter further at its next meeting on Jan. 3.
In this instance it appears some sort of clerical error or miscommunication between the city finance and human resources offices and the budget commission is causing the hold up.
The commission has proposed cutting all coaching stipends some 60 percent. It is one of the aspects of the on-going negotiations between the commission and the teachers’ union, which bargains on behalf of the coaches.
The first program to officially be affected is boys’ basketball, its Division I league game against Bishop Hendricken set for Friday night, Dec. 14, postponed. Head coach Alex Butler is one of the coaches who has not been paid for his duties as girls’ varsity volleyball coach in the fall.
Likewise his volleyball assistant and girls’ varsity basketball coach Mike Solitro canceled Friday practice. Boys’ and girls’ indoor track, coached respectively by Bob Lyons and Bob Duarte who coach football and cross country in the fall, also did not practice Friday.
The EPHS swim teams did travel to their meet scheduled for Friday afternoon. Wrestling will take part in a tournament scheduled for Saturday morning, but coach Tom Galligan has indicated to his counterparts he will follow the others and stop participating in the program when the event is over.
The EPHS hockey game in Smithfield Friday night was still a go. When reached by phone Friday afternoon, head coach Kevin Croke, who is not a teacher, said he was unaware of the action taken by his peers. He also said postponing and rescheduling a hockey game is different than other sports due to the paucity of ice time available. He expects the Townies’ game scheduled for Lynch Arena in Pawtucket Saturday night, Dec. 15, to take place as scheduled as well.
The situation in East Providence is similar to that which occurred in Central Falls last school year. Also under the direction of a state over-seer, Central Falls did not pay any of its coaches until the money was procured at the end of the 2011-12 term.