E.A. Sports Today

Board policy impacts coaches

Starting next school year hourly employees will no longer serve as coaches in the Calhoun County system; several schools impacted
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
The coaching landscape at many of the Calhoun County Schools high schools could look a lot different soon after a school board interpretation of state employment law that will impact who can be on the sidelines.
Beginning next school year hourly employees in the school system not holding teaching certificates – para-pros – will no longer be able to serve as athletics coaches, East Alabama Sports Today has learned. The decision was made to protect the system against any legal action related to compliance with the state’s 40-hour work week rules.
“We’re just looking at the best direction we can go in as a system,” Calhoun County Schools superintendent Donald Turner said Friday. “We haven’t changed any policy; supplements are always – I can’t say it enough – decided on each year. No one gets tenure with supplements.
“We just want the best people in every position, whether it’s a teacher, a coach, an assistant principal, a bus driver, we want the best people doing what they can do.”
The decision is expected to impact at least one head coach in a high-profile sport at Weaver High School, two prominent assistant coaches at White Plains, a three-sport assistant at Ohatchee and two at Wellborn. 

Of course, if those coaches attain their certification prior to the start of the 2020-21 school year – and there is a teaching slot available for them at their school – they will be able to remain in their positions there.
Each principal determines the coaches within their school’s athletics staff, Turner said, so they would be responsible for any replacements. Turner said the board hasn’t addressed the issue of volunteer coaches, which currently are not affected by the policy.
The ruling is not expected to affect the impacted personnel’s general employment status at their current schools just the coaching aspect.
Numerous school system sources have said they have not been told directly the policy will be in effect, but all the conversations to which they’ve been a party have led them to believe it is going to be implemented.
There are 15 high schools in Calhoun County with seven in the Calhoun County Schools system: Alexandria, Ohatchee, Pleasant Valley, Saks, Weaver, Wellborn and White Plains. All except Alexandria, Pleasant Valley and Saks have coaches that fall under the decision, the highest profile being Weaver boys basketball coach Marcus Herbert, a lifetime Bearcat who recently completed his second season as the hand-picked successor to his former coach and mentor Daryl Hamby.
Many coaches have said they don’t do what they do for the money, but for the youth. Still, Calhoun County schools authorized some of the more lucrative coaching supplements in the state during the administration of former superintendent Joe Dyar. All head coaches outside of football receive an additional $5,000-$6,500 a year and non-football assistants (many of whom are classified as developmental level head coaches) an additional $750-$2,000, paid over a 12-month term, a condition that had been used to justify their use.
Other county and city systems in the surrounding area do have personnel without teaching degrees serving as coaches.
“All I can tell you is we’ve chosen to go in another direction,” Turner said. “Some parents want to make sure there’s somebody who’s gone to college with an education degree supervising their children.”
The direction, sources in the athletics community say, will make it difficult for the county schools to attract quality coaches going forward and perhaps shutter some programs altogether for the lack of coaches to supervise the teams.
“I don’t worry about that,” Turner said. “I don’t see that happening.”
In addition to Herbert, who also is Weaver’s track coach, three-sport Ohatchee assistant Brett Henderson, White Plains football offensive coordinator and basketball assistant Brad Yarbrough, White Plains golf and basketball assistant Justin Mallicoat, Wellborn junior high football coach Jeremiah Farmer and Wellborn volleyball assistant Ashlon Dempsey also fall under the ruling.
Interim Weaver principal Sharon Gaines said Friday she did not have any information on who would or would not be at her school next year.

White Plains head football coach Chandler Tyree said he hadn’t thought much about the way his program might react to the policy, but he was prepared to follow the administration’s guidance.
“We’re going to support whatever decision our county makes,” he said. “They’re doing what they feel is best and what they believe is right and we’re going to support them. At the end of the day you do what your boss tells you to do. We respect their decisions. Whatever our county decides to do we support them and we’ll follow whatever they lead us to do.”

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