The Jefferson City Public Schools Board of Education on Monday approved an update of the district's stipend pay schedule for its Missouri State High School Activities Association athletics coaches.
Many of those coaches will see significant increases in their stipends next year.
"Our current stipend schedule has been something that's made me cringe my entire tenure here. There are no defendable — there's no explanation on how any of the stipends were created, no rationale on why that's the amount for it. It's just, 'This is our stipend schedule. This is what we've been compensating people to do forever to do this, so that's what it is,'" Jason Hoffman, the district's chief financial and operating officer, told the board.
Hoffman said the new stipend schedule — calculated based on percentages of the district's $36,900 base salary for teachers — will make JCPS coaching positions more competitive compared to surrounding districts and assistant coaches in particular will be better compensated for experience they've brought from elsewhere.
The new stipend schedule for MSHSAA athletics will have an increased annual cost for the district of approximately $75,000 starting July 2019 and will affect 15 head coaching positions and 42 assistant coaching positions.
Stipends for sponsors of activities such as band, choir, orchestra, speech and debate, and scholar bowl are being evaluated, and a proposal is expected in the next couple of months.
Hoffman said Wednesday that athletic coach stipends are disbursed monthly as part of a staff member's salary. As teachers' base salaries are raised in the future, he added, adjustments to the coaching stipend schedule will be automatic.
Director of Athletics Ehren Earleywine, Jefferson City High School Activities Director Chad Rizner, Capital City High School Activities Director Robert Ndessokia, Director of Secondary Education Gary Verslues, Director of Human Resources Shelby Scarbrough and Hoffman worked on the update, based on a comparison with "the five school districts in central Missouri that had the best stipend schedules" — Columbia, Fulton, Camdenton, Sedalia and Waynesville.
Hoffman said Waynesville tended to pay the most out of the five districts — with a large base of federal funding for that district coming from Fort Leonard Wood in the area.
Jefferson City Public Schools' decision was to pay its head coaches 5 percent more than the highest stipends in Mid-Missouri for head coaches, and for assistant coaches, 10 percent more than the average for them among the five districts, Hoffman told the board.
He said it was Earleywine's idea that "we need to have the best head coaches, and head sponsors, and then they can have assistants, but they would be the ones driving the show."
Head football and basketball coaches will make the most of any MSHSAA athletics coaches in the district according to the new stipend schedule the board approved — with either head coach earning a stipend of $7,749 for one year of experience, and $9,161 if they have 25 years of experience.
Head wrestling, track, volleyball, soccer, baseball and softball coaches can earn $7,852 for 25 years of experience — cross country, $6,980 for the same amount of experience.
In terms of prioritizing individual sports' pay, Superintendent Larry Linthacum said: "You look at what others are paying, the time requirement, the expectations."
Even though football and basketball head coaches will make the most in stipend pay, it's boys' and girls' golf and tennis that will have the biggest base increases in stipend pay for their head coaches — an increase of 84.9 percent, from the current $2,195 at the first step to $4,059.
The head coaches for baseball, boys' and girls' soccer, softball and volleyball will have larger percentage increases in their base stipend pay — 37.6 percent, from $4,828 for one year of experience to $6,642 — than the 30.8 percent increases for the head boys' and girls' basketball and football coaches.
Assistant coaches who came to the district before now have had to start at the first step of the existing stipend schedule — regardless of how much experience they come with. "We don't really feel like that's fair," Hoffman said.
The biggest base stipend pay increase among assistant coaches will be for assistant middle school volleyball, with a 68.1 percent increase from the current $1,317 to $2,214 — both for one year of experience.
Assistant boys' and girls' soccer coaches and assistant softball coaches will have base stipend pay increases of 51.3 percent, with 40.1 percent increases for assistant boys' and girls' golf coaches.
At least nine assistant middle and high school coaching positions throughout the district will have decreases in their base stipend pay, though — the largest decrease being a 31.2 percent cut for the head assistant middle school football coach — but, Hoffman said, "If anyone (already in a job) would make less on the new schedule, we're certainly going to grandfather them in on the old schedule. We hired them under this. It wouldn't be fair to say, 'Now you're going to make less.'"
Some head assistant coaching positions are being eliminated — at least in terms of being positioned on the stipend schedule any differently than other assistant coaches.
"We told (head coaches) that if you want to give the title of head assistant in the future, you can do that, but there's not going to be anything different on the stipend schedule," and "head assistant" will only be a title, that doesn't change that assistant coach's pay, Hoffman said.
That applies to high school boys' and girls' basketball, football, track, and girls' volleyball, according to the stipend schedule proposal in Monday's board packet.
"The reason for pushing for athletics at this time is that it's time for us to start hiring coaches for Capital City High School, and we don't want to use a broken old system to hire new people. We want to say, 'Here's our system, and here's what we're going to do going forward,'" Hoffman told the board.
The new stipend schedule applies starting with the 2019-20 school year.
Shelby Scarbrough, the district's human resources director, said in a staffing presentation Monday that the openings for Capital City High School's fall athletics head coaches — along with cheer, dance, orchestra, choir and band activities leaders — will be posted Oct. 22.
Hoffman said the district may fill the cheer, dance, orchestra, choir and band leader positions at CCHS before their stipend schedules are in place. "I don't expect the head sponsors to go down from where they're at," so they could make new hires under the old schedule and make increases as needed.
Among the five districts JCPS was compared to, he told the board, how much activities sponsors were paid depended more on how much individual districts valued each of those activities.
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While theater is not a MSHSAA-sponsored activity, Hoffman said one district paid a $1,400 stipend for theater and another paid $9,000, while JCPS is currently around $4,000.
The stipend raises for athletics coaches are part of a larger strategy by the district to be the most competitively compensatory in Mid-Missouri for staff.
JCPS teachers' base salary was raised in June. Substitute teachers' pay was increased in August, and the district adjusted technology staff's pay last year, Hoffman said.
"We know we can't compete with the metro areas, but if someone wants to live in Mid-Missouri, we want to give them a compensation package that says, 'Jeff City's where I want to work,'" Hoffman said in June.
He said the stipend raises for coaches will be budgeted with other salary raises in next year's budget.
"Not only savings in other places, but fully funding the foundation formula is why the addition — it was more than enough to fund these raises. It paid for other things as well," Hoffman said in June of where the money for teachers' raises had come from — not from the district's operating tax levy.
He echoed Friday, on the coaching stipend raises, he expects an increase in next year's revenue for the district from foundation formula increases and property taxes, but said the coaching raises also do not come from the district's operating levy.