Proposed Paso schools cuts: Coaches may see their stipends cut

A possible budget for the upcoming year outlined this week by Paso Robles Public Schools could have a dire effect on coaches, two Paso Robles High athletics officials said Thursday.

The budget would eliminate all coaching stipends and cut sports transportation funding by an additional 50 percent, after it was recently cut 12 percent. Coaching stipends now range from about $1,500 to $4,000 for a season depending on the sport, Paso Robles High School athletic director Mark Rose said.

Scott Larson, who’s in his 33rd year as the Bearcats’ varsity boys head basketball coach, hadn’t yet reviewed the possible budget, but said that in general, cutting stipends could dissuade would-be coaches.

“It would critically harm the athletic department,” said Larson, a history teacher who won the California Coaches Association Boys Basketball Coach of the Year award last year. “To take away any kind of (monetary) incentive for coaches to coach on their own time would be devastating.”

Rose also said he hadn’t yet fully reviewed the budget ideas, but he could see the elimination of stipends having similar ramifications.

“I think it would have some effect,” Rose said. “Some might coach no matter what. Some might say, ‘Why am I wasting my time? What am I doing?’ With the hundreds and thousands of extra hours coaches put in, I don’t know how they would react.”

The school’s student athletes pay $60 in transportation fees per sport, Rose said, although the fee is capped at $120 per family over the course of a year. The school has had to stop scheduling a number of competitive out-of-area contests, Rose said.

“We’re really becoming limited in what we can do,” Larson said.

If transportation expenses were to be further slashed, Larson said, teams might be forced to rely on parents, and that opens the school to liability implications.

The athletics department is seeking new methods of fundraising, Rose said.

“This is a lousy situation we’re stuck in,” Larson said. “We can’t figure out a way to adequately fund the programs we’re offering. It’s tragic.”