Over the years the Evergreen School District has had very successful extra-curricular programs ranging from athletic state championship teams to the cultivating of a student’s love for government and civic involvement via ASB participation. Most of us owe a great deal to our teachers in the classroom for our education, but the ones we often times remember most are the coaches and advisors we worked closely with in our extra-curricular activities, making us feel like we had a unique skill and something to offer to society in the future. At this time, the coaches and extra-curricular advisors in Evergreen Public Schools have failed to reach an agreement with the district for a contract, even after negotiating since December of 2014. The major sticking points: Safety, equal access to success for all, and appropriate compensation.
Safety: During the great recession, like most school districts, cuts took place in the extra-curricular arena. Many sports found themselves without an assistant coach, resulting in some sub-varsity teams being cut. Even worse, some sports were expected to continue with “business as usual,” such as track, all while having implements like javelins, discusses, and shot puts, flying through the air. The EEA was never comfortable with this risk, but now there is no excuse for it.
Many think of sports when they think of extra-curricular activities, but let us not forget the ones that often times do not get the large scale public accolades. The Evergreen Public Schools has produced outstanding and award winning drama productions, but these productions do not happen without help. During the recession the district cut the Drama assistant position, forcing schools to fundraise simply to have an extra set of eyes for a large group of kids, let alone choreograph musicals, do lighting, or design sets and costumes.
Equal Access to success for all: The Evergreen Public Schools has faced equal access problems before with respect to Title IX. This is why it is baffling to the Evergreen Education Association that the district cut the Dance Team assistant. There have been state champion and national contending dance teams in our district, but somehow one coach is expected to supervise and coach fifty dancers. As a result, some schools are considering creating a “cut program” where they tell girls who have not had the money to be part of dancing clubs throughout their childhood, sorry young lady, you are not good enough to participate on our team. In a district with over 49% of its students living in poverty, that is unacceptable. In addition to teams now considering limiting access, it is also safety issue. We would never ask a PE teacher to supervise 50 kids in a gym.
Appropriate Compensation: Every coach will tell you they love what they do and that it is like a hobby. The reality is through, as the profession of teaching becomes more and more demanding, time for “hobbies” start to disappear. These coaches and advisors need to be able to justify to their spouse and their children why they are not coming home until 8:00pm that night because they held the extra-long prep session or practice to get his/her competitors ready for that big competition. These coaches need to be able to justify to their spouses why they have to run the fundraiser over the weekend in order for the team to be able to afford to compete at the next competition. These coaches need to be able to justify to their spouses and children why they are gone for the next week at summer camp to prep their team for next year. It might be a fun hobby to the coach, but it is not a fun hobby for his/her family.
Inflation has been above 13% over the last seven years, yet over this same time period the district has increased extra-curricular salaries by only 1.9%. The EEA’s ask of an average of about $72 to be added to each coach/advisor’s annual paycheck each of the next three years does not seem like an unreasonable ask.
The patrons of Evergreen Public Schools have unwavering support for our levies and we look forward to their vote of support in our request for a replacement levy this February. Don’t forget however, these extra-curricular activities are what levy dollars are supposed to pay for. The EEA asks you to e-mail the school board at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them to support safety for our students, equal access for all, and respect for our coaches and advisors by settling a fair contract now!