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Laurel County coaches, band directors receive pink slips

From The Times Tribune -

LONDON — Head coaches, assistant coaches and band directors throughout Laurel County received pink slips last week stating that their contract would not be renewed for the 2020-21 school year.

Each head coach, assistant coach and band director in the Laurel County Public Schools system was notified of the decision through an email that stated that their current contract of employment would not be renewed for the following school year.

The Laurel County Public Schools system sent out the following statement concerning the decision:

“The Kentucky Department of Education recommended that all athletic coaches receive non-renewal letters for the upcoming athletic season due to the uncertainty of when school athletics will resume. Per the order by Governor Beshear, all athletic and extra-curricular activities are canceled through at least May 31. Additionally, per recommendation by Governor Beshear all school-owned athletic facilities and properties are to remain closed through June 30, 2020. Laurel County Schools have a rich history of athletic success. We are home to numerous district, region, and state championships! We look forward to seeing our athletes and band students back in action and showcasing their talents. We are hopeful this will be able to occur this fall, but at this time there is no definitive timeline. We will continue to wait for further guidance from the KHSAA, KDE, and Governor Beshear.”

There was also some discussion about the decision during Monday night's Laurel County Board of Education meeting.

Several coaches reached out to the sports departments of The Times-Tribune and The Sentinel-Echo expressing their disappointment in the decision to not renew the contracts of head coaches, assistant coaches and band directors for the upcoming school year. These coaches asked for anonymity as some hope to return to their jobs.

“A high school coach doesn't do it for money but for the love of the sport,” one coach said. “The countless and unknown hours spent in the off-season, summer and after school will never be known and would make someone wonder why we do this for what pay we get. The things we do to help kids get recruited, keep up with their grades, be a parent to many of them, help them get jobs, and hopefully help turn them into contributing members of society that will help lead us into the future — a coach is more than just showing up for a game or practice. It goes far beyond that and there is no amount of money that can be paid for that.”

“Coaches spend countless hours outside of practice and games preparation and in the off-season,” another coach stated. “No high school coach gets into it to make money. Truth be known, most people would think we were crazy if they knew what it breaks down to as an hourly rate. We show up as professionals, care about the kids we work with, bare the brunt of criticism, take responsibility for how our players perform and never cry about how much we make. Getting an email telling me I would not be hired back was just another way of telling us what we do does not matter. I believe the administration believes if there is no season, then coaches should not get paid. Bottom line, we will get hired back when seasons start but they don't have to by law, to me this shows no support for the work we do. Secondly, it has never been about money to me but it does show some type of commitment to me as a person, just like a commitment I made to in the Laurel County School District.”

Coaches also voiced concerns as they had had not been given any prior notification or an opportunity to discuss the decision with the administration beforehand.

“We are facing a new and challenging landscape with this pandemic, it is nice to see who has been supporting us and who does not,” said a third coach. “Receiving pink slips in an email and not discussing it prior to the entire athletic staff or extracurricular activity leaders clearly shows either the administration's lack of communication and professionalism or lack of support, maybe both.”

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