Cumberland County’s coaching and extracurricular supplements haven’t been updated in many years, and one member of the Cumberland County Board of Education thinks that’s impacting the school system’s ability to recruit and retain educators to facilitate these after-school activities.
“I don’t know for sure, but I have been told that this scale has not been changed in 20 years,” Jim Inman, 1st District representative, said during the board’s Jan. 18 work session. “It’s just barely a little bit more than when I coached, and it’s been a long time since I coached.”
The school system pays $329,700 for extracurricular supplements each year. These payments range from $150 for an elementary cross country coach to $5,100 for varsity football and basketball coaches at the high schools.
High school basketball and football coaches are also paid an additional month of salary.
Inman presented information on supplements paid by schools in the area as well as schools that compete against the high schools.
“I know from personal experience that we have always been behind in our coaching supplements,” Inman said.
When he coached girls softball at Cumberland County High School, Inman said he was paid approximately half what the coach at competitor Bradley County High School earned.
“We were beating Bradley County,” he said. “It was a little frustrating.”
Inman said coaching is no longer just a seasonal commitment, with sports becoming year-round activities.
“I wasn’t willing to work year-round for that amount of money,” he said. “I had not incentive to stay.”
Inman said he’d like to see the school system raise the pay for athletics, choir, yearbook, cheerleading and other activities. There has also been interest in expanding the supplemented positions, such as archery coaches at elementary schools.
“Where in the world we’re going to get the money, I don’t know. But we need to look at something,” Inman said.
Inman presented a proposal from Cumberland County High School baseball coach Dave Prichard that would move the county to a system paying a percentage of the school employee’s salary.
“I would prefer to have a percentage base, because then we wouldn’t have to revisit it,” Inman said.
Kacee Harris, chief financial officer, said there are multiple routes the school system could take to improve the supplements.
Dean Patton, countywide athletic director, said Pritchard’s proposal developed percentages based on a first-year teacher’s salary and kept the amount paid at the current $329,700.
However, that number increases with years of teaching experience and advanced education, he said.
“Most of our coaches are probably less than 10 years,” Patton said.
Inman said the current structure pays coaches the same regardless of their experience and longevity with the school system. A percentage of salary would encourage coaches to stay with the school system.
“Right now, we don’t have any incentive for our coaches to stay,” he said.
Prichard also proposed some new positions, such as a second assistant coach for baseball, softball, soccer and volleyball, and increases in some sports to match similar positions.
Harris said there had been requests from schools for additional supplements for web masters and other positions.
Inman said individuals giving their time after the school day should be compensated.
Prichard has also proposed a bonus structure that rewards coaches when their teams advance in the post-season, with $200 per head coach for advancing from district to region and state tournaments and $500 per head coach for winning a state championship.
Inman said, “This is a big problem, and it’s going to take a lot of brain power to come up with a solution. It’s not going to be a quick fix.”
Harris said she would like the board to develop a few options they would like to consider, perhaps through the athletic committee, and then she could run the numbers to determine cost.
The matter will move to the board’s salary and athletic committees for further study and recommendation.