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Even though divvying out Wichita Falls ISD coaching stipends correctly has been a headache for administrators and coaches for years, this is the year to fix it, according to WFISD Board President Trey Sralla.
Board members focused Tuesday in a special budget work session on concerns surrounding two issues: stipends for coaches' second sports and head coach salaries.
Sralla pushed past the administration's handout comparing the Texas Association of School Board's stipend averages for 4A and 5A schools with WFISD stipends to understand how WFISD awarded the compensation for coaches who coach more than one sport.
In WFISD, all coaches must taken on more than one sport, according to WFISD Athletic Director Kenny Catney, who spoke from the audience.
The typical rhetoric has been that coaches receive a "reduced stipend" for their second sport, but as Sralla pressed the issue, it turned out the "reduced stipend" was a fixed $3,100 and only reduced compared to what a head coach would receive for the effort.
When board members asked Catney why the district operated this way, Catney said the policy pre-dated him.
"They didn't want to pay an equal amount. It's your second sport," Catney said. "But every parent believes it's their son's first sport."
Catney said he'd always questioned the practice.
Sralla asked if a second sport stipend was smaller to reflect a coach's lesser interest and time commitment to the sport.
Some coaches take any sport they coach very seriously, Catney said.
TASB comparisons showed a wide range of stipends, depending on the sport and grade level.
"We don't differentiate the sport you're assistant of," clarified WFISD Chief Financial Officer Cindy Tatum.
WFISD also pays coaches an average of 10 extra days annually to cover coaching duties, giving them a 197-day contract.
Board members pressed Catney for reasons the district operated as it did.
"I can't tell you why," Catney said. "I can just tell you it happens. The second sport - you're not as involved. I don't know why. It goes back to when I was coaching at Rider."
Originally, the set-up was to retain head coaches, Catney said. "It's been confusing for HR, confusing for the coach coming in. We couldn't put it on our website."
"We're here to fix it," Sralla said.
"Yes, fix it please," Catney said.
Tatum presented a chart comparing salaries for the district's second problem area: athletic positions such as assistant director, athletic trainer, non-coaching athletic director and athletic director/head football coach, and head football coach.
WFISD, which pays in the $72,000 to $79,000 pay range, was well below other 4A and 5A districts that pay as high as $99,000 for assistant athletic directors, $76,000 for athletic trainers, $124,000 for non-coaching athletic directors, $109,000 for combined athletic director/head football coaches, and between $92,000 to $117,000 for head football coaches.
"I see why we're losing head football coaches," Superintendent John Frossard said. "When you have three coaches and you lose two in one year, you know you have a problem. We could easily have lost all three."
Frossard asked if the district had a salary range for head football coaches.
Catney said that salary is labeled, "Negotiated," but the last time it was truly negotiated was when Travis Pride was hired as head football coach at Wichita Falls High School. Current WFISD head football coaches "took the check of the person that left," Catney said.
"We need direction on that - a range or scale," Frossard said.
Tatum said TASB was scheduled to study WFISD salaries this fall and make recommendations for the following year.
Catney said it is a preference for some coaches to coach more than one sport so they can earn more money.
But in WFISD, coaches must coach more than one sport or the district would have to hire 13 new coaches, he said. He recommended continuing the two-sport coaching, but pay competitive salaries.
Frossard asked his team to do more research on fair salaries.
"All in favor of doing something?" asked Sralla, as board members all nodded.
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