Budget Plan Upsets Coaches By Not Adding To Stipend

Superintendent Leaves Workshop Pay For All Sports Out Of Proposal

January 06, 1991|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff writer

County high school coaches hoping to receive workshop pay now given only to football and soccer coaches appear resigned to wishing for atleast another year.

Some coaches reacted angrily to School Superintendent Michael E. Hickey's failure to include workshop pay for all county coaches in the 1991-1992 budget proposal he turned over to theschool board Thursday night. The County Coaches Association, following a series of meetings with Hickey last year to air grievances, sought to have workshop pay granted to all coaches.

Coaches plan to meet Jan. 21 to discuss the prospect of addressing the school board the next night, when it conducts a public hearing on the proposed budget. The board will make additions or reductions in Hickey's proposal before submitting a final version to County Executive Charles I. Ecker. The budget is scheduled for adoption May 31.

Centennial High School field hockey coach Gail Purcell said she will consider ending her 14-year field hockey coaching career if she does not receive workshop compensation this fall. Purcell maintains thatbecause she reports to fall practice Aug. 15 each year -- the same day football and soccer teams convene for their first day of practice -- she should receive the 10-day, $750 stipend those coaches are paidin addition to their salaries.

"They want quality coaches, but they don't want to pay them that way," she said. "The man (Hickey) sat down with us in good faith last spring and said, 'Be patient, we'll work on it (the workshop pay question).' I don't understand politics enough to know what games are being played. I think it (the decision) is a slap in the face."

"I'll be very disgruntled if the inequities continue," Oakland Mills cross country coach Steve Carnahan said. "I still believe the money could be found. I'd be stunned to find out the board looked at all this and decided football and soccer still deserve it and no one else does. I'm not a happy camper at this point."

Hickey said last week that his decision had nothing to do with politics; rather, he could not afford countywide workshop pay in the $200.8 million proposal. Giving stipends to all coaches would cost between $121,600 and $198,000, he said, depending on how many days each coach would be paid during the fall, winter and spring seasons.

Alluding to the county's projected $17 million to $19 million shortfall in its 1990-1991 budget, the superintendent said he doubts coaches will sway the board on the workshop pay question.

"It (workshop pay)would have to be contained in the original budget proposal, especially when you're looking at money of that magnitude," Hickey said. "Under the present economic conditions, it's a tough time to be looking at adding a major expenditure. Given the financial situation, the board is more likely to take things out than add things. I'm in a very weak position to bring something new in.

"I can appreciate the fact that coaches have had some considerable distress over this, but you have to set priorities and those priorities have to be based on need,"he added. "I never expected to do it for all of them. I have some real doubts that some of them merit any workshop pay, and I simply couldn't do it."

The superintendent had asked coaches last spring to justify workshop pay on a sport-by-sport basis. But he said his hands became tied after he received a letter from the coaches association seeking across-the-board stipends.

The 112-member coaches association -- which accounts for about 80 percent of the county's high schoolcoaches -- changed its position out of concern that some sports would be denied stipends, resulting in a harmful division in the association. About 35 coaches voted nearly unanimously in November to abandona sport-by-sport quest in the hopes of attaining rewards for everyone.

Mount Hebron girls basketball coach Dave Greenberg, who along with Atholton boys basketball coach Jim Albert prepared a statement justifying workshop pay for basketball coaches, said he expected Hickey's response after the association changed its stance.

"They wantedto take an all-or-nothing stance because some coaches saw it (the sport-by-sport method) as potentially divisive, and there is some legitimacy to that line of thinking," he said. "I personally think it's pretty clear-cut that some sports don't deserve workshop pay. But we took an all-or-none stance that resulted in none. My feeling was once we took that stand, we weren't going to get anything. Money is tight."

"The major point is we don't feel one coach's time is any less valuable than another coach's time," said Terry Coleman, who coaches boys basketball and baseball at Glenelg High.

"We didn't want to do anything that would potentially fracture the unity the coaches association now has," he added. "If we did, it would appear the associationwould not have an all-for-one, one-for-all attitude. Sometimes, individuals have to take a back seat to the good of the organization. It's very important we stay together as a unit."

Wilde Lake football coach Doug DuVall, like Greenberg, said the workshop pay issue appears dead for now.

DuVall said he expects coaches to focus more on another piece of Hickey's budget -- a $12,000 provision that would provide an athletic trainer at two high schools. Coaches urged Hickey last spring to consider providing a trainer at all eight high schools. Hickey said the $12,000, which must survive school board, county executive and County Council cuts, would fund a pilot program that might be expanded to include all high schools in the future.

"Our needs are still the same, but our expectations are different because there is no money," DuVall said. "It's not like we're giving up something wealready had."

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