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AD Salary Range Debate Befuddles School Board

Paul Steinbach

The school board in Payson, Ariz., spent a solid half hour at a recent meeting trying to figure out whether to add $8,000 to the salary range for an athletic director.

As reported by the Payson Roundup, the current schedule says the position pays between $52,000 and $68,000. However, superintendent Linda Gibson said that was a mistake, with the correct range being $60,000 to $76,000.

Newly hired athletic director Ryan Scherlin holds the job based on the old salary range. Changing the range could mean an extra $8,000 a year, pending a satisfactory performance review every year.

The district just overhauled the pay scales based on a salary study involving a bunch of similar districts, and some board members had trouble understanding why that wasn't good enough when it comes to the athletic director.

According to Peter Aleshire's reporting of the dialogue that took place, the key moment apparently came when the district changed the title from “coordinator” to “director” — even though the duties of the position hadn't really changed. Gibson argued that because the person evaluates the coaches, it's an administrative position and thus worthy of an administrator's salary.

“It was our error. Asking someone to move from the high school athletic coordinator to the administrative salary schedule is not fair to the position,” she explained. “When we brought you the range, the range was calculated incorrectly. This should have been the calculation, so it was consistent on the administrative salary schedule.”

Board president Joanne Conlin said she was perfectly happy with the salary study, which found out what other schools pay the athletic directors, seemingly regardless of specific title wording. “The study was done. The salary didn’t say, this is the job description — so I really like the way you went out and looked at a variety of schools," Conlin said.

“You’re right,” said Gibson. “When we brought you the $52,000 to $68,000 — when you look at all the positions on the salary schedule — we didn’t go out to new schools.”

Conlin persisted, “This type of position seems like it is a little different at every school — so it just doesn’t fit. So it’s got to be what fits for our school. I mean, it’s all over the place. I just don’t feel that you guys made an error.”

Board member Audrey Hogue, added, “I can’t remember — it was after we went to an administrator [instead of a coordinator]?”

“Now I’ve got myself confused,” said board member Jolynn Schinstock. “All these other positions — did that middle salary amount come from the study?”

Finance director Kathy Manning attempted to clarify. “It was converted for the number of days — the middle amount divided by the number of days and multiplied by the number of days we wanted the position to work — for every position except the athletic director. You felt it was way out of range and you wanted to start at a way lower range. The only position that the board made an exception to was the athletic director.”

“We paid for a study," Conlin said. "The study gave us information to guide us. We know there needed to be some adjustment. That’s a point in time. If we did the study today — it would be different.”

“Several of you have asked the athletic director to be on a yearly contract, not just 180 days plus 20 days [of personal leave]. You’re asking them to work more days. You have to be careful that you’re compensating them. It’s still 20 additional days at a daily rate that we’re asking them to work.”

Manning chimed in. “On a teacher salary schedule — that’s certified rather than administrative — they can get 25 scale points [for experience and a master’s degree]. An administrative position has only five years [for experience].”

This confused Underwood. “Are you saying — just want to clarify — with the certified they would get 20 years? I thought that was the maximum. Plus education [five years’ experience credit for a master’s]?”

Gibson added, “Twenty years’ experience and a master’s degree and 20 extra days plus $4,000 performance pay.”

In the end, befuddled board members unanimously added $8,000 to both the minimum and maximum salary schedule range for the athletic director, Aleshire reported.

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