Raises In Stipends For High School Coaches Is a Must Or Else NC Will Pay a Bigger Price

Whether you realize it or not, school started this past Monday, July 31st.


Many a student, many a sponsor, and many a coach went back to public school campuses to start official practices for sanctioned and unsanctioned fall sports and other worthwhile activities like marching band, cheerleading, color guard, dance teams, etc.

The list goes on and on.

If every coach actually divided his/her stipend for fulfilling his/her role by the actual number of hours spent in preparing, practicing, and community outreach, the per-hour recompense would make 1983’s minimum wage appear like the lottery.

And then you see news reports like this:

“Wake County athletic and academic coaches could find out as soon as today if planned raises will be nixed this year to help close a budget gap.

Wake school administrators had previously listed the $2.6 million in raises for extra-duty pay as among the options that the school board could use to close a $28.8 million budget gap. At Tuesday’s work session, staff will ask for the board’s feedback on what adjustments to make to the budget.

[Wake school budget cuts might delay raises for coaches, halt plans to hire counselors]

The school district has to cut $28.8 million from its $1.6 billion operating budget after getting less than what it wanted from the Wake County Board of Commissioners and to cope with changes in state funding.”

That’s from T. Keung Hui’s piece in the August 1st edition of the News & Observer entitled “Wake County athletic coaches may lose raises due to budget gap” (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/wake-ed-blog/article164628912.html).

Mr. Hui is a fantastic reporter and he knows the Wake County educational terrain like no one else.

That budget shortfall that he is referring to was catalyzed by the underfunding for public schools by the state lawmakers in the very same county (Wake/Raleigh) and local politicians. In a political climate that embraces “funding” public schools and brags about a state surplus, the fact that this is happening is egregious.

Coaching and sponsoring are not undertaken by teachers and community volunteers to make money or get rich. People do these things to give back to the school and more importantly help students. But to deny coaches and sponsors the raises needed to at least keep some sort of pace with the cost of living and expending their own resources is ludicrous.

One of the most highly revered baseball coaches in North Carolina public school history actually told me that he did the math and as a coach he made less than a dollar and hour. I never heard him complain about that, but he always tried to make sure that his assistant coaches were as well taken care of as possible. They were younger and were starting families.

Most every sports program or large extracurricular activity (like band) teaches students skills and values that cannot be measured by dollars. They also keep students out of trouble and strengthen communities.

Furthermore, one might be surprised by how much revenue sports can generate for a school program or a school system as places like Forsyth County require county schools that play each other in several sports split the gate proceeds evenly. That’s generating money for a school system. And it isn’t going into a savings account.

Furthermore, every sport usually has to do its own fundraising. Do you even want to think of how much money is needed to outfit an entire band and help secure instruments? Go ask schools, but don’t ask lawmakers who squabble over funding. They probably will not know.

Go to a successful athletics program in any traditional high school (and by successful, I do not mean wins versus losses) or a driven band program, and you will see coaches and parents and community volunteers spearheading some of the most successful fundraising efforts ever conceived. They are also making sure that students are performing in the classroom as well.

Despite what government is “helping” them do.

Yes, there are some high-profile programs that do pay coaches large supplements from booster club revenue and that is a choice made by individual schools, but it is the exception and not the norm. And that supplemental money comes through individual school fundraising.

Maybe every lawmaker in Raleigh or every county commissioner should spend time volunteering as a coach for a high school sports team or band and get some sort of idea of what it is like to keep a program running. What we see under Friday Night Lights is only a fraction of what is done for these students and communities.

Maybe also have every lawmaker be an officer in a booster club or PTSA of a local high school and see what kinds of obstacles are in place that are overcome each and every year to make things possible for school students.

I know of one particular school board member in my district who was and her understanding of how finances in schools work is more than admirable. She also happens to be a former teacher.

Then maybe there would not be “budget shortfalls” like there are today.

Or news reports like the one mentioned earlier.