Few of the county's physical education teachers coach more than one sport, and that's something the Board of Education would like to change.
So, the school board plans to require all high school physical education teachers hired after July 1 to coach at least two teams.
Earl Hersh, the supervisor of physical education and athletics, supports the proposal, as do his counterparts in neighboring Howard and Baltimore counties. But the Carroll County Education Association --the teacher bargaining unit -- and many coaches are against the requirements.
They say the plan is unfair to physical education teachers who would be required to perform extra duties for about two-thirdsof the school year, and could keep teachers in other areas from getting their preferred coaching positions.
But Hersh said the plan would put the most qualified people in charge of sports teams and wouldhelp eliminate emergency coaches -- non-school board employees hiredto fill coaching positions that do not interest teachers.
"We're having problems finding coaches within the schools," Hersh said. "We have found, in general, our programs go better when we have in-schoolpeople coaching. You have a better handle on the children in terms of academics."
Hersh noted, for example, that nearly a dozen springcoaching positions need to be filled before the season starts in March. However, all but one are junior varsity or assistant coaching slots, and about half are in boys or girls lacrosse, which now may have two paid assistant coaches -- up from one -- per team.
Harold Fox,chief negotiator for the CCEA, says the union has several concerns about the plan.
"The basic concern is (the proposal) takes the volunteerism out of it," Fox said. "A problem we have is the stipends forany extracurricular duties are not adequate for the number of hours they have to put into it."
Coaches receive extra-duty pay based onthe teams they coach -- football, basketball and wrestling head coaches make the most -- and on longevity -- coaches get a boost after five years of service.
But for at least a few of the coaches, pay isn't the issue. They say it is most important to have people coaching who really want to be there.
Dick Bauerlein, a physical education teacher and coach in the county for nearly 30 years, says the longhours can be a drain, especially on family life. He says it's not uncommon for coaches to start their day at 7:30 a.m. and not get home on game days until 11:30 p.m. or later.
"I'm speaking about being fair to any one individual," said Bauerlein, who at one time coached three teams but now limits himself to wrestling. "It makes for sucha long day."
John Seaman, a math teacher, longtime track coachand former head football coach at Francis Scott Key, agrees with Bauerlein.
"It's one thing (to have multiple coaching duties) early in your career," Seaman said. "There does reach a time when multiple sports gets to be a problem. I would hate to have my contract contingent upon something like that."
If physical education teachersdon't want to devote their time to coaching, Hersh said, they could opt for jobs at the elementary or middle school levels. The only requirement would be that they coach two sports, he said, and those couldbe freshman, junior varsity or assistant varsity positions, which needn't require as much preparation as a head varsity job.
If Carroll education officials succeed in inserting the requirement into the teachers' contract, Howard County's supervisor of athletics and physical education, Don Disney, said he'll suggest his school board take the same route.
"I think Carroll County is moving in the right direction," Disney said. "If Earl (Hersh) gets it, I could use it as bargaining leverage."
Howard traditionally has more trouble hiring coaches, in part because only three physical education teachers areassigned to each school. High school students have less physical education time than those in Carroll, and very few students in that county -- which sends more than 80 percent of its graduates to college --opt for phys-ed electives. Also, students there have fewer opportunities to take electives, since the school day is only six periods, compared to seven in most other counties.
Disney said the argumentthat family life makes it impossible for phys-ed teachers -- especially women -- to remain active in coaching isn't valid. He notes that at least two female phys-ed teachers in his county coach three sports, despite having children. In fact, Disney said, those coaches may bebetter role models for female athletes.
"They want their families to see them as role models," Disney said. He noted that he is concerned about the high number of males coaching girls teams in Howard.
Ron Belinko, Disney's counterpart in Baltimore County, said his phys-ed teachers are supposed to coach two sports as a matter of policy, but said he'd like to get that language in the contract to avoid possible legal problems.