The Payson Unified School District (PUSD) board decided to change the salary schedule for coaches to allow a coach to use part of his salary to pay assistant coaches, while also making sure no more than five teachers miss school to coach at one time.
“I would like to come to the board to ask ... to give the head coaches, if they have members of their staff, to allow the splitting of stipends to add additional positions,” PUSD Athletic Director Don Heizer said at the Oct. 15 board meeting. “It is a practice that has been in place since I came to the district.”
Back in May, Heizer asked for more coaching positions, to make sure an adult always supervised students at competitions. “It’s about safety and liability,” he said. “If we’ve got just one coach at each site and we have an event happen, we’d have to shut everything down.”
At that meeting, the board decided it couldn’t afford to increase the number of coaches.
The board has split coaching stipends in the past. Board member Rory Huff said when he was a coach, if he needed more help; he simply cashed his check and paid cash for an assistant coach.
That did not sit well with Superintendent Ron Hitchcock because he said coaches work for the school district.
“If we have people representing the district, we want them to be an employee of the district,” he said. “It’s not just the coaching and the practices, we need to have the leverage of discipline for that person to be that employee.”
When board members wondered if a coach’s salary could just be split at the district level, PUSD Business Manager Kathie Manning objected for compliance reasons.
“When the (state) auditors come to audit and we pull a salary schedule and say a head coach gets this amount, then the auditor will look at the salary schedule and wonder why they are receiving less than the salary schedule,” she said.
Ultimately, the board voted to re-label a coach’s salary based on a suggestion from Heizer.
“(Here’s a) potential solution, these are the stipend amounts not to exceed (a certain amount),” said Heizer.
Manning said she would check and see if state auditors would accept a salary schedule with a maximum range, but no minimum range.
Huff added he would also like to see a coach’s salary range and a limit on the number of teachers out of the classroom.
“We don’t want to have five teachers in the district out for a sport because we have to pay for subs,” he said.