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New rules sought for hiring emergency coaches

August 07, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Washington County Board of Education has directed administrators to rewrite the regulations that pertain to emergency coaches, or coaches who are hired from outside the school system.

Ed Masood, supervisor of athletics, health and physical education for Washington County Public Schools, said Thursday the regulations will be rewritten to "streamline" cumbersome language.

"The intent is to follow the state law," Masood said.

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association allows school officials to hire coaches from the general public if there are not enough school system employees who want to assume coaching duties.

Washington County Board of Education President Wayne D. Ridenour said after a board meeting Tuesday the school system hires emergency coaches for one year at a time.

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The rewrite will focus, in part, on the process by which emergency coaches are evaluated, he said. The existing evaluation program has about 35 steps.

"That's more than you have for a teacher," Ridenour said.

The new regulations will include "common sense" ways to hire coaches from outside the system, Ridenour said.

Among other things, the new regulations probably will suggest that prospective coaches have playing and coaching experience. He said salaries would be negotiated on an individual basis.

If everything goes as planned, the proposed changes could be presented to the school board within the next few months, Ridenour said.

Coaching vacancies cannot always be attributed to a lack of interest, Ridenour said. Fewer teachers are signing up to coach because they have other professional obligations, such as preparing students for mandated testing.

"In a perfect world, we would want teachers coaching all the time," Ridenour said. "It's just too time-consuming."

Hagerstown resident Jackie Brewer, spokeswoman for Better Sports Now, an organization founded in December 2008 to improve the quality and focus of athletics in Washington County, told the school board Tuesday she believed the county has several qualified coaches who aren't employed by the school system.

She suggested school officials should accept résumés from outside the system.

"I think we might be missing the boat by not pooling our community," she said after the meeting. "I really think we're doing our kids and community a disservice" by not looking elsewhere.

Board member Donna Brightman said during the meeting Tuesday she wanted to discuss the issue further before the board votes on any changes.

"It looks like we're rushing this through," she said.

School board member William Staley said Thursday the existing regulations are fundamentally sound. The rewrite simply will clear up some of the language.

"By changing a few lines, it might make it better," he said.

Staley said coaches shouldn't be evaluated by their win-loss records, but by the progress student athletes make in learning the fundamentals.

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