Teachers who lead academic-based extracurricular activities, however, generally don’t receive the same compensation.
That gap may be closing, with Oxford City Schools taking the lead. For several years that system has been paying supplements to some teachers coaching non-athletic clubs, said Roy Bennett, student services co-coordinator there.
The school system pays supplements to teachers who coach and sponsor the Scholars Bowl teams, the math and writing teams and the student council and yearbook advisers, Bennett said.
“Those are people who have responsibilities after school, taking kids to competitions,” Bennett said. “So there again these are nearly coaching supplements.”
The non-athletic team supplements pay less than the athletic team supplements, but that reflects that the other teams don’t have as many competitions and fewer practices with the students, Bennett said. Although he couldn’t specify a date the non-athletic supplements were first paid, Bennett said it was within the last seven years.
But he also notes that times have changed. As a teacher, Bennett sponsored the math team at Oxford High School, but at that time there were fewer competitions, fewer practices than there are now.
“That was in a different era,” Bennett said.
Supplements as an incentive to take on clubs
The Anniston City Board of Education is considering adding some non-athletic supplements to its budget for clubs for science, math, Spanish, robotics and for the student government. The science, math and Spanish clubs would be new additions to the extracurricular offerings at the school.
At the school board’s meeting on Thursday last week, Superintendent Joan Frazier proposed adding $1,266-per-year supplements for the sponsors of those clubs, which is the equivalent of the smallest coaching supplements the system pays. She said students and parents have requested the clubs.
She proposed the supplements as a way to put school system money toward building academic experiences into what the students are exposed to after school. Adding academic clubs is one way to do that, Frazier said.
“What I’m trying to get at is that we’re just not spending our after-school hours on athletics, that there are academically-engaging, out-of-classroom activities as well,” Frazier said.
The board members were mixed on the proposal.
Immediately, board member Arthur Cottingham asked that the non-athletic supplements be discussed separately from the athletic supplements. The board members unanimously passed the athletic supplements without discussion.
Board President Mary Harrington came out against the proposal.
“It’s not that we don’t appreciate what teachers do,” Harrington said. “I just don’t think that we need to be paying people to be doing what they ought to be doing.”
When she worked as a teacher, she said, she headed clubs because she wanted the students to have those opportunities, not for the money.
“To me, that’s just part of the territory,” Harrington said.
She pointed out that coaches spend time with their students daily, outside the classroom, on the weekends, even overnight for practices and events. That is a huge time commitment, she said.
Cottingham asked how much time the club advisers would be putting in with the students in comparison to the amount of time coaches do.
Frazier said she envisions the students in the academic clubs attending events and competitions in the same way that athletes do, and that the board could include that as a requirement if the supplements were approved.
One coach’s experience
Nicole Bell, the finance teacher and cheerleading coach at Anniston High School, said her coaching duties last all year. For instance, she said, her cheerleaders attended a camp at Auburn University this week and cheerleaders cheer for two sports and train all year.
Bell, who has been teaching for 10 years and coaching for six, will receive a supplement of just more than $1,260 this year, she said. In 2011, Alabama teachers with Bell’s level of experience earned between $42,053 and $55,932.
The way Bell sees it, the supplement is a thank-you for the work that she does with the cheerleaders, not necessarily a payment for the hours she puts in.
Bell also is co-adviser for the Future Business Leaders of America club at the school. In that capacity, she works with the students both in the classroom and outside it. She helps manage the school-based credit union and prepares students for competitions. But, Bell said, she takes a back seat as adviser of the club because coaching takes so much time.
“I give it throughout the day to FBLA and then in the evening, I’m pretty much all cheerleading,” Bell said.
However, she noted, if she were not coaching, she could put in as much time with club as she does now with cheerleading. In fact, while she took her cheerleaders to camp this summer, another teacher in her department was taking students to a national club conference for competitions.
“You have to enjoy what you’re doing to put in as much time,” Bell said.
Teachers’ extended day
Teachers generally put in a lot of time outside the classroom. According to the results of a 2012 survey of Alabama teachers posted on the Alabama Education Association’s website, only 5 percent of teachers don’t put in time on mandatory instructional tasks outside the classroom on a daily basis. Thirty percent of the teachers who filled out the survey said they put in at least an hour each day and 62 percent said they put in two to five hours outside the classroom every day. Three percent said they put in more than five hours a day.
Board member William Hutchings said he agreed with adding the non-athletic supplements.
“The teachers haven’t had a raise in four years,” Hutchings said. “I’d go ahead and pay them.”
Cottingham said he would support the supplements but thought the amount should be lowered.
While the schools want to be able to offer myriad after-school activities to students, paying teachers to head them is an issue, Harrington said. There is only so much to go around and, Harrington pointed out, sporting events bring in some revenue for schools.
Teacher salaries are paid by the state, but the money for supplements comes from local sources, Frazier said.
After the meeting last week, Frazier said she couldn’t guarantee the new clubs would be started if the supplements weren’t approved.
The board members decided to postpone action on the proposal until job descriptions are created for each supplement.
Star staff writer Laura Camper at 256-235-3545.