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Farmington booster parents voice concern over tentative agreement

Sue Dentinger, president of Tiger Fan Club, said booster volunteers don't want to be subject to a contract. Kara Hildreth / contributor

Volunteer Farmington Tiger Fan Club booster parents raised concerns this month about how a tentative collective bargaining agreement for teachers could affect booster clubs.

Tiger Fan Club President Sue Dentinger spoke on behalf of booster parents who packed an Aug. 14 school board meeting. Tiger Fan Club formed in May 2015 to support Farmington sports and club activities.

Dentinger said they were notified the week prior that booster-paid positions were added to a compensation schedule with payment amounts subject to category and years of service.

"There was a great deal of confusion around the details of this change — boosters don't really want to be subject to contracts, percentages, union negotiations and we don't want to have to calculate what we have to donate," she said, calling it an "administrative nightmare" for the volunteer organization.

Last year boosters paid to support salaries for a number of additional coaching advisor positions.

"If we have funds and the head coach feels additional staff would be beneficial, we are happy and always willing to donate," said Dentinger, later adding: "We just want to donate money and wanted to publically make sure you knew that we want to provide funding for lots of things."

Todd Karich, lead negotiator for Farmington Education Association and a high school social studies teacher, said Schedule D is a collective bargaining agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of employment for school district teachers. The agreement has been in place for years.

"We started this booster component with lots of outside boosters in the 2015-16 school year," Karich said. "When it first started, booster clubs were giving over checks to their respective coaches for additional staffing."

The following year there were changes due to regulations and the school district began taking checks from the booster clubs, Karich said.

"When they started doing that, it became part of our terms and conditions of the agreement, and it didn't line up with what we are doing and as we went go into negotiations sessions, we heard from our coaches," he said.

Dentinger said they want to donate funds easily.

Christy Jo Fogarty, co-chair of the Farmington Boys Booster Club, said she does not see a need for part-time, seasonal coaches to be a part of the contract. Booster clubs only exist to support the arts and athletics.

"This kind of decision will, quite frankly, devastate our budgets and this schedule that was handed to us would devastate our budgets, and from what I understand we will not be inclined to have to follow it and it is not really a rule — that is a terrible idea and a terrible way to do business and to move forward," Fogarty said.

Karich said they did not intend to take money away from programs or regulate the program funds.

"We just wanted to make sure everything was good," Karich said.

Dentinger said they want to see more transparent communication.

"And," she said, "please help us assure that the line of communication is open for affected and involved parties when there is an important subject on the table, and we are asking for your help in ensuring that we all work together and you don't make it harder for us to handle the money; make it easier."

Dentinger said after the meeting they were satisfied.

"It appears the discussion has clarified a number of things that will allow us to move ahead funding additional staff which is very good news," she said. "We are happy with the outcome and we had some great open conversations and we look forward to moving forward to have a good working relationship."

District says agreement benefits students

Farmington School District communicated and clarified information about booster-funded coaching positions at the Aug. 14 school board meeting.

MaryAnn Thomas, human resources director, said there were many questions in the community about booster-funded coaching positions and Schedule D in the master agreement with teachers.

At an Aug. 7 negotiation session, the Schedule D committee of teachers and the district team presented recommendations which became a tentative agreement on how to handle the situation when booster clubs want to donate money to the school district to hire coaches.

“This tentative agreement allowed fall athletics to move forward with booster-funded positions while the final agreement will be voted on by the Farmington School Board, and teachers when the entire contract is finalized,” Thomas said.

The agreement allows the boosters flexibility to donate money to the school district to hire "specialist assistant coaches" within an established process, she said.

“Both sides agreed that we needed to share it with coaching staff, so our fall programs could have what they needed to move forward with the beginning of the fall season today,” Thomas said.

The work was completed by a joint district and Farmington Education Association subcommittee and was approved by both bargaining teams.

“Both bargaining teams worked hard to develop parameters that meet the needs of our athletic and activity programs, as well as the community,” Thomas said. “We think this tentative agreement is in line with the spirit and intent of all parties and will benefit our students.”

Tiger Fan Club fundraiser:

What: Big Brain Bash — Tiger Fan Club fundraiser entertains with silent auction and fun trivia about Farmington. Teams brainstorm themes to compete for prizes. Youth will be inducted into Farmington Athletic Hall of Fame and the Farmington Arts and Activities Hall of Fame.

Farmington district coaches, assistants and volunteers of the year will be recognized and honored. To nominate someone, go to www.tigerfanclub.com.

Who: The public is invited and anyone 21 years and older.

When: Saturday, Sept. 9. Check-in is 6 p.m., with 7:30 p.m. recognition and trivia

Where: St. Michael's Church, 22120 Denmark Ave., Farmington

Cost: $30 tickets online at www.tigerfanclub.com or at the door. $24 for a table of eight.

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