TOPSHAM — Despite the cancellation of the spring sports season, Maine School Administrative District 75’s board of directors opted last week to pay coaches their full stipends.

“The athletic world has been turned upside down by this situation,” said Geoff Godo, the athletic director for Mt. Ararat High School, during a school board meeting Thursday.

Godo asked that coaches get their full stipends but proposed a plan to pay them based on the timing of the actual spring season, which was two weeks before it was canceled April 9. He proposed giving eight varsity high school coaches 30% of their stipend and the seven other coaches at the high school and eight Mt. Ararat Middle School coaches 20% of their stipend. That would reduce the $18,658 middle school coach stipend budget to $3,732 and the $59,774 high school coach stipend budget to $15,713.

The school board voted instead to pay the full spring coach stipends it already budgeted for, a total of $78,432. This is money that was budgeted for the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

Coaches had already met with potential athletes and schedule pre-season scrimmages and were preparing for the regular spring season when the Maine Principals’ Association decided to cancel the spring sports season on April 9, according to Godo. He said coaches have continued to connect with students to check on their wellbeing and encourage them to remain active and continue a physical lifestyle. 

The coaches operate beyond the window of the MPA sports season and work hard to build connections and create positive relationships with students before and after the season, Godo argued.

School board member Eric Lusk cast the sole vote against paying the full stipends, saying he was in favor of the reduced versions. He said he suspects the school district will face larger state subsidy cuts during fiscal year 2020-21 than it did during the recession in 2009.

“I don’t take any delight in telling the coaches they’re going to get a prorated stipend but then are we going to go back to the property taxpayers in a year and ask them to bail us out because we didn’t reserve cash when we could have,” Lusk said.

School board member Alison Hawkes argued having coaches serve as additional positive role models for students contributes to their mental health.

“A lot of kids need those sports to have an adult to connect with if they would not normally at school, and that is a very valuable resource for us right now,” Hawkes said.

The school board asked Godo to follow up with the board on the work coaches are doing during the pandemic.

 

 

 

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