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Coaches request more money

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By Paul Gable

As is the case in business a competitive salary can help an employer convince an attractive candidate to take a job regardless of what profession it is.

For the Grant County School District, however, money will be more of a detriment than an asset in the future if a public work session held on April 22 is any indication. With the meeting being a work session, no action was taken on increasing salaries.

When Grant County High School football coach Mike Davis approached the board with a proposal requesting more money for his assistant coaches and head coaches as well, along with payment for extended days during the summer, it sparked a heated discussion amongst coaches and board members. The request comes as the district learned recently that their budgets will be adjusted due to not only rising fuel costs, but also a state budget that featured numerous cuts in education.

Board member Jackie Young asked why coaches receive a coach's salary on top of their teacher pay.

Davis told the board that coaching football is a year-round job for him and his coaching staff.

"There is a lot of time and effort dedicated to our sport, and when you look at what we pay our coaches who definitely work more than 187-day teacher contracts, it would be nice to see salaries raised a little, said Davis, who conducted a state-wide survey of high school football coaches to find out how Grant County's pay scale stacks up.

Davis said his research found that salaries ranged from the lowest at $5,000 dollars to the highest being approximately $22,000 stipends. A variety in size of school, experience, extended days and extra duties factored into addition to salaries.

In addition, Davis said that approximately 40 percent of schools offered their coaches extended days for the extra work they put in during the summer and after the season is completed, especially in the weight room as football is the only sport that lifts year round. The extended days ranged anywhere from 10 to 54 days. Assistant coaches' extended days ranged from five to 20.

"About 75 percent of the programs that responded received some sort of compensation for the weight room," Davis said.

Also in attendance were Grant County High School girls' basketball coach Daryl Guffey and boys' basketball coach Ron Kinmon, both of whom agreed that coaching has become a year-round responsibility for their respective teams.

"I am not in it for the money. I am in it for the kids, but we do put in a lot of time and effort," Guffey said.

Kinmon told the board that he currently gets paid the same coaching salary that he received nine years ago when he was hired.

"We ask our assistant coaches to do the same work as head coaches for less money," Kinmon said.

Board member Tracy Goe urged the coaches to remember that the district is in a budget crunch.

"I ask everyone for this year to put themselves in our position," Goe said.

Davis said that it was his belief that if salaries were increased, the district would be able to improve its retention rate of quality assistant coaches.

"I would love to reward my assistants for the hard work and dedication they have to the kids in our program. I feel that we need to increase the pay of the assistants to commensurate with the time and effort they put in compared to the other programs in the state," Davis said.

Davis told the board he would like to see assistant coaches pay increased to $3,000 per year and an added $200 per year for every year they are at Grant County High School to top out at 15 years.

In addition, he is hopeful his assistant coaches will receive 10 to 20 extended days on their contracts for their help with summer and spring practices and weight room duties.

For himself, Davis requested a salary increase to $9,000 per year, an additional $200 per year for 15 years and 23 extended days to increase his contract to 210 days.

"We are about the middle of the road, as far as head coaches go, but this is not just about money. Our assistant coaches and middle school coaches get done wrong. The time and effort we put in after our season is over is a great deal of time away from our families, which is what we chose to do as a profession, but it sure is nice to have that noticed and rewarded," Davis told Young.

Young responded by saying that she realizes "a lot of people work a lot of hours and that coaching is not an easy job."

"As one person on the board, I look at how we can serve our students," she said.

As for middle school football, Davis said he would like to see the middle school head coach's pay increase to $3,500 for the direction of sixth through eighth grade as well as the assistants receive a stipend.

Currently, the football program services over 70 kids and only has a coaching budget of $4,200, all three basketball coaches make $6,000 combined.

Grant County High School athletic director Scott Shipp informed the board that all coaches are "underpaid."

"My responsibility to the board is to look at the whole picture," said Shipp, adding that if one sport received a raise, all of them would have to receive a raise under Title IX guidelines.

Despite hearing from three coaches, the biggest testament may have come from Monty Joe Lovell, who initiated the football team at Grant County High School and currently serves as the school's interim principal.

Lovell told the board that when he began coaching, he received a salary of $500 on top of his base salary of $5,000. When he became a head coach, his coach's salary increased to $1,000.

"The board is faced with a very bad year financially in Kentucky, we all know that. When we started football, the board gave $8,000 and football has taken care of itself, but if you could realize the hours that went in coaching year round and working two nights a week raising money," Lovell said.

Lovell told the board it was his belief that the coaches in attendance do what they do because they love it, but he did say, "they have to live too."

"You are their only funding source, but we all understand we can't be everything to everybody. To be successful you have to offer incentives. We don't want to be the same thing we were 10 years ago. If you pay the same amount for the same thing, you'll continue to get the same thing. You've got to continue to move forward," Lovell urged the board.

Goe again asked how salary increases could be included with the tight budget constraints.

"We may have to move in small steps. The amount we spend in extra curricular activities out of budget is very low," superintendent Michael Hibbett said.

The board is expected to vote on increases in coaches' salaries at a later date.