The Henry County School Board wants to project an image of fair play when it comes to stipends for coaches and sponsors of various extracurricular activities.
At its planning meeting Thursday at Chatmoss Country Club, board members considered a plan to provide fairer compensation, to balance sports and activities at its schools and to alleviate stress on contributions from volunteers, booster clubs and other support groups.
David Scott, assistant superintendent for operations and administrative services, said the school division’s 2019-20 budget includes about $110,000 for improving stipends for athletic coaches and sponsors and directors of other extracurricular activities.
About $55,000 of that is included to provide stipends for these additional positions: two band section coaches each at Magna Vista and Bassett high schools, one assistant director for indoor musical theater at each high school, one assistant coach of volleyball each at Fieldale-Collinsville and Laurel Park middle schools, six sponsors and co-sponsors for clubs/activities at each middle school, one assistant coach for boys basketball at each high school, one assistant director for Winterguard at each high school, one assistant coach of Scholastic Bowl at each high school, one assistant coach for boys basketball at each middle school, one assistant coach for girls basketball at each middle school, one assistant coach for outdoor track at each high school, one assistant coach for boys soccer at each middle school, one assistant coach for girls soccer at each middle school, one weight room coaching position at each high school and one coaching position for JROTC at each high school.
Many of those positions were being filled by volunteers, Scott said in an interview.
About $35,000 of the $110,000 is included to increase the extracurricular stipend formula’s base pay, about $10,000 is included to increase the cap on years of experience and about $6,000 is included to align Virginia High School League positions (such as debate, forensics, one-act play and Scholastic Bowl) with the coaching stipend formula.
Scott said that nearly two years ago about $200,000 worth of adjustments and additional positions were identified as being needed to help address coach/ sponsor stipends and equity and that some improvements were made this past school year.
As for the current needs, he said the school division wants to ensure diverse offerings, not just catering to one sport or catering to sports over academic/fine arts activities, or providing different offerings or different staffing at one high school than the other high school or at one middle school than the other middle school.
He said the school division also wants to compensate volunteers who are serving as coaches or sponsors or directors, and to take the financial pressure off groups (such as band booster clubs) that are helping to pay stipends, so they could better spend their money on other things to benefit students.
He gave several examples.
Bassett High School marching band had a band director and two assistant directors. Magna Vista High school had a band director and one assistant director. “That doesn’t really meet the needs of all those students,” Scott said.
“Sometimes what happens is other people who are working with our children end up are getting paid by the booster clubs. That essentially takes money that might be better spent on band equipment or helping students out. We want to take some of that burden off booster clubs.”
Another example he gave was volunteers who practice with middle school sports teams but may not be compensated. He told of one middle school coach who told him he splits his basketball coaching check with his volunteer assistants.
“The need is there to have these [volunteer] people, but the people who are putting in that time are not always being compensated for it,” Scott said. “We want to make sure we are compensating these people.”
School Board member Joe DeVault said paying the people also “gives us more control over them.”
Scott gave an example from a previous year where a varsity boys team for a sport had a coach and two assistants and a varsity girls team for that sport had a coach had three assistants.
Without giving specifics, he presented an example of how someone was paid almost $3,000 at one high school and someone doing the same job at the other high school was paid about $900.
As for current pay, Scott wrote in an email, “Head coaches are currently between $3,000 and $5,500, depending on size of program and experience. Assistant coaches range from as low as approximately $900 to as high as just over $3,000.”
Those are stipends that are over and above the salaries that may be earned as teachers or administrators.
The current dollar range of stipends for sponsors or directors of other extracurricular activities was not immediately available.