COLLINSVILLE-Should Henry County coaches receive a larger stipend from the school district? Also, should band directors or drama club leaders receive extra funding from the schools for their efforts? As the district heads into budget season, a proposal including all of those requests is being considered by the school board.
During the fall semester, a committee of Henry County Public Schools staff members reviewed the district’s current stipend practices. That group included one assistant principal from each middle and high school in the county, as well as each high school’s athletic director, one central office administrator who is a former coach, two classroom teachers who also coach in the district, a guidance counselor who is also a coach and the district’s activities coordinator.
“We formed the committee because school board members wanted to take a look at our stipends as a part of the budget process,” said Henry County Public Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton. “Early in the process, I asked board members to share their budgetary priorities. This was one that came up late in last year’s process, so I told the board that we would have some recommendations for the following year. Of course, any adjustments will be contingent on available funding.”
Stipends are different than salaries. Coaches do not have to be full-time employees of a school system. They can be hired simply to coach an activity, be it athletics, band or something else, so the money they’re paid to do that is separate from the district’s salaries. In many cases, however, districts hire people to both coach and teach classes. Those people receive both a teacher’s salary and a stipend for the activity they coach.
What changes from district to district is how much the stipend is. In Henry County, the district determines a stipend by adding up points based on a number of factors. The final number after addition is then multiplied by a base salary of $35,800 and divided by 100, to arrive at the final number.
How do coaches get points? There are a number of ways. You get 0.2 points for each week of the season. If your season, for example, is 11 weeks, then that would equal 2.2 points in the formula. Experience is also taken into account, with coaches receiving 0.5 points per year for up to eight years. That means a coach with eight years of experience receives 4 points in the formula, the same number a coach with 20 years of experience receives. Coaches also receive points for the number of assistant coaches they’re responsible for. They get 0.5 points per assistant coach. Coaches also receive points based on the number of students they’re responsible for, from a low of 0.5 to 2.5. The assistant superintendent makes a final determination on how many points to award for students, due to the possibility of team members dropping out or joining in the middle of a season. A coach is also awarded points based on how the district feels that he handled his budget and the team’s equipment. This can be anywhere from a low of 0.5 to 1.5, if the district officials feel the coach did a good job. The final points for a coach are awarded based on the number of games or competitions involved in a season. Again, this is a judgment, where a coach can earn anywhere from the bare minimum of 0.5 to 1.5 points.
This is the formula Henry County uses for athletic coaches, as well as band directors. Currently, they don’t offer a stipend for forensics coaches, sideline cheer coaches in the fall or winter seasons, coaches for the different drama teams or the district’s academic teams. That’s what the stipend committee wants to change.
Looking for a change
Earlier this month, the stipend committee presented a two-year plan to the Henry County School Board, not just asking for a change in coaching stipends, but to add in band assistants, theatre sponsors and others who handle extracurricular activities.
The reports asks for the district to create a “more equitable way of compensating our activity and athletic staff.”
The committee recommended that in Year One, or the 2018-19 school year, for coaches, including band, drama teams, forensics and sideline cheer teams in both fall and winter, the district change the base salary used in calculating stipends from $35,800 to $40,485. That $40,485 number is the amount paid to a first-year teacher in Henry County schools. The committee also recommended that the number of years considered for experience points increase. Under that proposal, the district would give 0.5 points for up to 12 years, rather than the current eight. The proposal also recommends that the district consider adding stipends for band assistants, to a maximum of four.
How much would that cost the district? Increasing the base salary in the formula would add $53,212.94 in expenses for the 2018-19 school year. Going from eight to 12 years would add another $53,215.96 in expenses. Stipends for band assistants would add $18,933.08 to the budget, with another $81,837.27 if drama, cheer coaches and others are granted stipends. Combined, that would add $207,199.25 in the proposal’s first year.
In the second year of the proposal, the 2019-20 school year, the group wants to add a stipend at each high school for the drama director and music director of $7,160, to pay for work done on spring drama and musical productions. They also want to add one drill team stipend of $3,580 at each school for JROTC Leadership programs that compete in state competitions and one choir stipend per high school of $3,580 for those choir groups that compete in local, regional and state performances. They also want to monitor student interest in the county’s two middle schools and consider adding flat-rate stipends at a total cost of $15,455.58 for additional extra-curricular programs. That would mean Fieldale-Collinsville and Laurel Park would each receive $7,727.79 if that is approved and divided equally between the two.
Taking the $207,199.25 from Year One and adding these costs, the stipend proposal would take up $251,294.83 by the end of Year Two in the budget.
On the athletic side, as coaches are being asked to work longer hours for extended periods, some district officials said they feel an increase is needed.
“I am in agreement with the proposed increase in the coaches’ stipends, due to the amount of time our coaches are investing in their respective sports,” Magna Vista Principal Charles Byrd, himself a former athletic director, said in a statement. “With the VHSL allowing out of season workouts, many of our teams are conditioning and preparing for their seasons throughout the school year. Coaching today requires a huge commitment of time, effort, and resources. Hopefully, the proposed changes will assist in attracting new coaches and retaining experienced coaches that have been committed to our student athletes and schools."
Each district in Virginia handles the question of stipends differently. In Patrick County, for example, Human Resources employee Amanda Holt said there was a set rate in place for each activity.
“Stipends range from 2.5 percent to 10 percent of the employee’s salary, depending on the sport, [if it’s a] head coach vs. assistant, etc.,” Holt said.
In Patrick County, the head football coach receives a stipend equal to 10 percent of his salary, plus an additional 40 days’ wages. According to the information provided to the Bulletin, other head varsity coaches in the Patrick County district get a stipend equal to 10 percent of their salary. Other stipends vary in Patrick County, where they are provided for more than 90 employees of the district. A high school band director, for example, gets a 6 percent stipend, as does the assistant band director, choir director, yearbook director, theatre director and flag corps coach, among others.
In Martinsville, stipends are also paid based on percentages.
“It varies from 2 percent to 14 percent of the base teacher salary,” said Martinsville Public Schools Director of Human Resources Sarah Byrd, “depending on the position and the level.” For example, high school events often require more hours and so those positions earn a higher percentage than middle school. The base pay for a new teacher, which is how the percentage is calculated in Martinsville, was $40,101 for this school year. In the city, sports with a head coach receive a stipend and experience is factored in, as well as the time commitment and responsibility, when determining the percentage.
Looking at larger districts, Lynchburg City Schools ranks all of their coaches from Level 1 to Level 10, with Level 1 being the highest. Lynchburg also provides a stipend increase after every four years of experience, so from 0-4 years, then 5 to 8, etc., up to 29 years. Those two factors determine how much a coach will make in the city. The head football coach makes the most in that system, starting at a stipend of $3,578 and then finishing at a maximum of $5,580 after 29 years or more. Basketball coaches are in the second level, starting at $3,375 and finishing at a possible $5,254. Lynchburg provides a stipend for everything from athletics to the literary magazine and yearbook sponsors.
In Roanoke County, coaches have a set stipend. A head high school football coach, for example, makes $3,652, while a head basketball coach makes $3,332. Coaches in all sports receive a stipend in Roanoke County, with band directors, choir directors and yearbook sponsors among those that receive a flat rate $867. Newspaper sponsors, drama coaches, debate and others receive a flat $642 stipend in high school and middle school in the district.
A final decision is still more than a month away in Henry County, as the school board continues budget discussions. District officials said they see the proposal as a way to compensate employees for the increasing amount of time spent on extracurricular activities.
“There's never enough to compensate our teachers for all they do outside of the classroom,” said Monica Hatchett, director of communications and organizational learning for Henry County Public Schools. “This proposal begins to reward volunteer coaches for the time and responsibility devoted to [Virginia High School League] activities and student activities that we currently offer. Though this proposal does not include every coach or advisor, it begins the process of providing fair stipends and recertification points for activity sponsorship.”