Valley Springs school board meeting regarding coach stipends takes turn

VALLEY SPRINGS, Ark. -- A few weeks ago the Valley Springs school board and the Personnel Policy Committee agreed to a salary schedule.

That included raising teacher pay to the new state minimum, and increasing the stipends for some coaches with additional contract days.

If you look at the basketball coach’s stipend, this past year he got $1,500, plus in an extended contract he gets 20 extra contract days.

The stipend goes toward practices and games and working during the summer.

In March the board and committee agreed to raise the stipend to $3,500 dollars with five extra days.

Now the board decided to lower the stipend to $3,000, but give the coach the entire 20 extra contract days he had before.

“Your actions are speaking way louder than your words are," said Leah Lake, with the PPO, to the board. "When you come back to us with these proposals, you’re not telling us that you’re as concerned for us as you are our coaches."

The superintendent and teachers said those contract days add up, and the school is already having to raise teacher salaries, and there's no guarantee how much the state will help out with those salary increases.

Starting next school year, teacher’s minimum salary will be bumped up to $32,800 under state law.

Over the next four years that will go up to $36,000.

But the school board said it's not an issue of teachers versus coaches. They said if you compare the $1,500 plus the 20 extra contract days to the $3,500 plus five extra contract days, it's not much of a difference.

“None of y'all are getting paid what you should be getting paid," Thanh Ketchum, a school board member, said. "You know that. We all know that. My goal is to get them up to where we said we would put them, which is comparable with other districts." ​

Teachers argued some of those other districts also have higher teacher salaries.

In the end the school board voted 2-1 to pass their new salary schedule.