In the days after former Payson High School football coach Jim Beall resigned in 2001 to coach at Higley High, there were those who approached him expressing disappointment with his leaving, saying he was an excellent teacher and coach and would be sorely missed.
Results from his tenure seem to prove he was extraordinary.
Beall guided the Longhorns to the state semifinals in 1997, the state title in 1998, and a first-round state berth in 1999.
In 1998, he was named the state’s Coach of the Year.
Beall’s reply to those who expressed their concerns was that he was never really looking to leave Payson, but had grown frustrated with some of the coaching demands, which came without administration acknowledgement or understanding of the sacrifices he and all coaches must make outside the classroom.
He hinted that “a give and take attitude” in which some small, but necessary concessions were given to coaches did not exist.
He said something akin to, “if they would just ever do anything for me or the coaches to make us feel we are really appreciated,” it would make a difference.
Beall wasn’t the first PHS coach to express those frustrations and he won’t be the last.
The mood today among some coaches is one of disgruntlement and it’s not too difficult to pinpoint the reason.
There are those questioning why their hard-earned and well-deserved salaries, as small as they are, must come from sports fees, donations and Credit for Kids funding rather than from the regular M&O budget which funds teachers’ salaries.
If coaches were truly recognized and acknowledged as valued educators essential to the learning process, wouldn’t it make sense their salaries be a priority and funded by the regular budget rather than being relegated to coming from another fund which is often money student-athletes are asked to earn?
At least three varsity coaches say telling players to fund raise for coaching salaries, which is what came out of a Dec. 7, 2011 meeting between high school administrators and coaches, goes against their moral fiber and sense of right.
Today, there is a general feeling among some, not just coaches, that there appears to be a creeping indifference in support for Payson High School sports programs.
That perceived neglect could erode the mission of the high school and adversely affect the prosperity of Payson.
Because interscholastic sports enrich students’ high school experiences, extracurricular programs must be kept vibrant, alive and a big part of the community, but that doesn’t mean pulling coaches’ salaries from funds like Credit for Kids even though the governing board decides it’s okay to do so.
Credit for Kids guidelines in most districts mandate the donations can be used for field trips, fine arts, visual arts and athletics, but earmarking the money for salaries is not mentioned.
The National High School Athletic Association has done extensive research on school district budgets across the country and learned that activity programs make up only one to three percent of the overall budget in a school.
That amount seems to be an exceptional bargain for programs that research shows minimize dropout and discipline rates, are inherently educational, support the academic missions of the schools and are of predictors of later successes in becoming contributing members of society.
The Payson Roundup has requested financial records from PUSD to determine what amount of the total budget the district spends on extracurricular activities.
The records had not been received by press time.
Almost everyone agrees the Payson school district is operating under tremendous budget restraints and administrators are scrambling to find sufficient funding for programs.
But relegating coaches’ salaries to fund-raising and donations seems to send a message that the men and women who dedicate their lives, passions and countless hours to extracurricular activities are somehow second class citizens and their paychecks an afterthought.
Our coaches teach lifelong lessons of teamwork and self-discipline, boost the physical and emotional development of Payson’s youth and build a sense of pride in school and community.
They are, after all, the champions of character on school campuses and deserve to be recognized as such.