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County schools could lose coaches

Board of Education to consider systemwide salaries, supplements

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POSTED: January 22, 2014 12:12 p.m.

The recent success of the football programs at Richmond Hill High School and Bryan County High School could mean a higher price for head coaches down the road.

It just depends on who’s willing to pay it, school board members learned last week at a work session at the Richmond Hill Pre-K center.

Richmond Hill football coach Lyman Guy and BCHS coach Mark Wilson are hot commodities after the Wildcats and Redskins made it to the postseason last year, local businessman Larry Galbreath told the school board at its Jan. 13 meeting.

“Every school that doesn’t like how their season ended … they’re fishing right now,” said Galbreath, whose son plays football at RHHS. “They’re actually willing to buy your coach out of their contract right now, because they want him working with the kids that are going to be playing ball next year. Both of our coaches are probably entertaining offers right now, or at least being given offers.”

Guy, who made slightly more than $74,000 in 2013, according to opengeorgia.gov, said he’s been contacted by schools about openings, but declined to comment further.

The Wildcats went 10-2 last season, advancing to the second round of the state playoffs for the first time since 1996.

Wilson, whose’ Redskins finished 8-3 and made the postseason for the first time in Class AA, could not be reached Tuesday by presstime. He was paid more than $73,000 in 2013, the opengeorgia.gov website said.

Salaries are on the minds of local school officials, who are in the middle of a salary study for all the system’s employees and a separate study on coaching supplements, the results of which were not shared at the meeting.

Further attempts to get information were unsuccessful, but Board of Education Chairman Eddie Warren said there’s a need to look at coaching supplements across the board.

“I’m not going to address just football, but I will say there are some needs in our supplements that need to be addressed,” he said Tuesday. “That’s what we’re looking to do.”

Warren said administrators will give the school board information at the regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Black Creek, and “we’ll provide feedback and they’ll come back to us with a recommendation in February.”

Galbreath, who also wants to see all football players at RHHS take weight training during the school day for their protection, said the school board needs to be proactive about coaching supplements.

“I know it won’t fit into this year’s budget, but at least we can tell (coaches) we’ve got a plan and we’re working toward it,” he told the board. “Time is of the essence. I’m in the air-conditioning business, and I equate it to me trying to hire an air-conditioner mechanic in July. It’s not going to happen. All of the good ones are gone, unless you’ve got a lot of money to spend on one.”

Galbreath said boosters could help make up the difference in supplements, which are intended to compensate coaches, athletic directors, band directors and others who work outside normal school hours for the additional hours they spend after school, on weekends and during the summer.

“We can’t match the money these coaches are being offered right now,” he said. “You can’t get there next year, but private sources can help with some of this, given some leeway. It’s been done before.”

His comments followed a rambling 20-minute discussion on supplements led by Assistant superintendent Dr. Trey Robertson, who told the BoE “there are a lot of things you have to wrap your head around,” given the differences in supplements from system to system.

Earlier, school Superintendent Dr. Paul Brooksher told the BoE that comparing salary data was “like trying to nail Jello to a tree.”
And while Bryan County administrators compared salaries from a cross section of districts, some, like Lowndes County, pay football coaches so much it skews the comparison, Robertson said.
“It’s $35,000 in Lowndes County.”

In addition, some football coaches may serve as athletic director and baseball coach, as Wilson does, which makes strict comparisons of salaries difficult. What’s more, coaches have different teaching certificates and years of experience, which means there’s not always an apples-to-apples comparison when looking at strict salary data.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t disparities. According to opengeorgia.gov, in 2013, Buddy Grooms made more than $92,000 to coach football and serve as athletic director at Wayne County High School in Jesup. Longtime Liberty County coach Kirk Warner made $89,000. Statesboro High coach Steve Pennington made $78,000 and Donnie Revell at South Effingham earned more than $82,000 last year.

As for Lowndes County High School, football coach and athletic director Randy McPherson pulled in more than $102,000, according to the website.

“The point of this (study) is just to demonstrate there’s a need to look at it,” Roberts told board members.

 

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