The Vernon Parish School Board will discuss at its December meeting a proposal that would compensate some high school head coaches for work they are doing without pay.

Public passion for sports has turned training and coaching into an almost year-round activity. There is summer training and playing for many high school athletes.

Head coaches are spending hours and hours overseeing the activity, and not being paid for the time.

Parish Athletic Director Hub Jordan outlined the situation at this week’s Athletic Committee meeting.

“I’m not talking about increased pay for anyone. It’s about paying them for work they are already doing,” he told the panel as he outlined the booming summer activities schedule.

Committee chairman and newly elected board president Angie Davis said she is concerned that if the parish doesn’t do something other parishes are going to lure coaches away.

Jordan emphasized to the committee and other board members present that he is not talking about any new pay rates or supplements, but instead is talking about the existing pay plan being applied to work already being done.

Coaches who also teach do receive a supplement for their coaching work. That schedule was adopted several decades ago.

“It’s similar to what the board chose to do for counselors and librarians back in 1998,” he said.

 He pointed out that counselors are paid for two weeks (one before beginning of school term and one after end of term) that they are required to work. Librarians are paid for summer work if it is necessary.

According to Jordan, the coaches payment system would work as that for counselors and librarians — with principal’s request and documentation part of the process.

“I’m not talking about a free-for-all program. If there’s no work, there’s no pay, and it would be capped at 10 days,” he said. The plan would apply to head coaches only and only at the high school level, and only to what are labeled major sports — football, basketball, baseball/softball and soccer.

A supplement is currently paid to coaches who supervise summer weightlifting programs. Jordan said that under his proposal a coach could not qualify for both payments.

On another matter, Jordan and Rosepine Athletic Director Tim Kyle asked the committee to consider recommending purchasing an electronic timing system for use at high schools (Rosepine, Pickering and Leesville) that host track meets.

The days of men and women lined up at the finish line, stop watches in hand, and the huddles after runners have crossed that line, are over. Electronic timing, with their stop-action cameras, provide immediate and irrefutable results.

Renting a timer system costs about $1,000 per track meet, and has to be done about a year ahead of time, Kyle said. Purchasing a system would cost about $12,000, he estimated. “The system would pay for itself the first year,” he told the committee, which took the proposal under advisement.

Kyle said timing systems have already been reserved for the 2018 season. The spring of 2019 is the target for proposed implementation of a Vernon-owned system.