Stipends eliminated for all Paso Robles coaches

Stipends for coaches at Paso Robles High School were eliminated this week in cost-cutting by the Paso Robles Public Schools board as it wrestled with a $7.8 million deficit.

That left several coaches expressing disappointment Thursday and even questioning whether they would continue.

Stipends range from $1,500 to $4,000 and equate to less than $1 per hour of work, according to estimates made by half a dozen coaches.

“It’s almost a slap in the face,” girls basketball coach Mike Gray said. “It’s not understood how much time we put in with these student athletes.”

Additionally, sports transportation funding was slashed by 50 percent (following a 12 percent cut the previous year), leaving coaches unsure how they’ll be able to make up for the losses.

It’s unlikely parents would be able to drive students to and from events, coaches said, as the district would be liable in that instance given that the competitions are officially school-sanctioned.

Boys volleyball coach Dieter Hayes was already likely to step down following this season for other reasons, he said. But had he planned to return, losing the stipend would have made it too difficult to justify putting in the four hours a day he does now.

Gray said he was undecided on whether he’d return, especially if coaches will now find themselves having to put in even more hours for fundraising.

Wrestling coach Chris Monteiro said he’d be back without the stipend.

His program has already started considering ways to expand fundraising efforts to bring in about $30,000 a year, a jump from the $8,000 it now raises.

In recent years, Paso Robles students have had to pay $60 per sport in transportation fees, although the amount is capped at $120 per year per family.

None of the coaches interviewed were proponents of wholesale pay-to-play scenarios being imposed upon students and their families.“It’s unfortunate,” Gray said, “because the ones who suffer the most are the students.”