An arbiter last week ruled that August workshop pay is not a mandatory benefit for high school soccer coaches under current contract language.
Arbiter Fred Blackwell, in denying the soccer coaches' grievance, cited wording in the teachers' 1990-1993 contract.
In addition to their regular salaries, the 32 soccer coaches had received the 10 days of workshop pay, totaling a combined $25,000, every year since the 1985-1986 agreement.
A rewording of the 1986-1987 contract opened the door for the Board of Education's decision to cut the workshop pay last February.
The 1985-1986 contract stated: " . . . coaches will be paid for the workshop rate for 10 days in August."
Subsequent contracts changed the language to read: " . . . coaches will be paid the workshop rate for up to 10 days in August."
The arbiter decided that the phrase "up to" gave the Board of Education the authority to deny the pay entirely.
Centennial High varsity boys coach Bill Stara, who filed a grievance with the Board of Education last March on behalf of the soccer coaches, said: "I have no problem with the arbiter's decision, but we were told that the reason for the cut was the recession.
"Then the board recently found $100,000 for a workshop on racism, which is a good and worthwhile thing. But where did the money come from? The board finds money for things it considers important. Obviously, it doesn't consider soccer important."
Marius Ambrose, a Maryland State Teachers Association staff member who processed the grievance for the coaches and served as a witness for the coaches during the Aug. 31 arbitration hearing, said: "We believe in the arbitration process, but think the Board of Education has acted in bad faith.
"The soccer coaches have been receiving the pay since 1986, and there was never any problem before. We'll deal with the language in the bargaining process this year."
Many soccer coaches believe that the workshop pay cut was made for political reasons.
Coaches of sports such as cross country, field hockey and volleyball, who did not receive workshop pay, had complained in the past because soccer coaches were getting it.
Football coaches are the only coaches who still receive the workshop pay.