Payson High School head coaches exited a meeting with administrators held just days before Christmas break confused with what was being asked of their fund-raising efforts.
Some of the coaches admitted they were upset they had been asked to raise, for the first time, all the money needed for coaching salaries.
“They basically threw us a huge curveball and expected us to hit it out of the park,” said one coach.
Another said he left the meeting believing administrators really don’t understand the major impact sports and athletics have on students, hence telling them if you want to coach, earn the money for your paycheck.
Yet another argued that making coaches fund raise for their salaries is a slap in the face, saying they are really not important in the grand scheme of things.
Not the first time
Payson High School principal Kathe Ketchem claims the coaches were mistaken in believing they were being asked to raise money for salaries for the first time.
She contends they did so last year, but for unknown reasons, might not have been aware of it.
Ketchem says it was a 2010 mandate of the board that coaching salaries not come from the district’s M&O budget as had been done for decades. Rather in a cost-saving measure, the board mandated the salaries were to come from other sources such as sports accounts.
In the district sports budget plan, each coach has three budget lines for his or her team — donations, Credit for Kids and a club account.
Ketchem and athletic director Gary Fishel say it is true coaching salaries no longer come from the M&O budget and are now taken from Credit for Kids, team donations and pay-to-play fees.
Salary funds cannot come from a club account, which may be accessed only by club members’ approval.
While the district does not directly pay coaching salaries, it does pay for team transportation which can be substantial, Fishel said.
The purpose of the pre-holiday meeting, Ketchem and Fishel say, was to tell coaches how much money they needed to generate in their accounts to help pay salaries and to also get a jump-start on fund-raising.
Ketchem said she also understood that fund-raising is a coach’s worst nightmare and has led to some excellent educators stepping away from the profession, but it is a necessary evil in these financially strapped times.
Ketchem produced financial records showing the school district needed $84,000 for coaches’ paychecks this year at PHS, but that amount was not yet in the coffers.
Around the district, coaches contend they understand the district is suffering financially, but question why it is extra-curricular activities, including sports, which seemingly always takes the hit.
“Taking away from extra-curricular activities again is not a wise move,” one coach said. “We already have the highest sports fees around, why is it not working?”
Ketchem says the pay-to-play fees are rolling in, but are not sufficient and have been shrunken by the scholarships the district awards needy student-athletes who cannot afford the fees.
But simple math tells us there seems to be ample salary funds in pay-to-play fees.
PHS individual fees are $250 for one sport and about 75 students participated in football last season. If 15 received scholarships and 60 paid the fees, $15,000 would be earned, which would be sufficient for the staff’s paychecks.
An informal survey of some head coaches around the state revealed none who acknowledged they fund raise to pay salaries unless it was for supplements only.
Coaching is one of the most honorable professions in our society and they already work for miniscule wages often earning less than babysitters.
But for most, coaching is a labor of love for which the dedicated men and women reasonably expect to be justly compensated. That’s only right.