Board: Coaches must go to teachers’ union

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Bob Lutz and Mike Burcham took the microphone Tuesday night at a city school board meeting held to hear students’ concerns about the coaches’ retirement plans.

Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Bob Lutz and Mike Burcham took the microphone Tuesday night at a city school board meeting held to hear students’ concerns about the coaches’ retirement plans.

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They want to retire from teaching and retain supplemental contracts with a salary increase to continue coaching.

But those plans have fired a controversy around the city in recent weeks, especially from students and community members who think school leaders don’t agree with the coaches.

"We’re getting old, but we still like what we do," Burcham said to a packed audience at the Ironton High School auditorium. "We want to work on an agreement to do this."

Lutz said he and Burcham talked about the idea in early February, came up with a proposal and approached superintendent Steve Kingery.

"The superintendent had only one worry, that we would stay for three years so they would have time to find replacements," Lutz said.

The coaches had an amount in mind for salaries and in making such proposals "you ask for the higher figure first," he said.

Lutz said the superintendent agreed but last Thursday, when he stopped at the board office to pick up his paycheck, Kingery told him the coaching positions would have to be posted and the salaries would remain the same as supplemental contracts.

Burcham agreed that there are procedures to follow, but all the coaches wanted to do is present a job and salary package.

"This is not a gouge thing we’re trying to do," he said, adding that the coaching positions need compensation.

"The athletic director’s salary we have some of you guys who pass The Tribune make more than that."

Prior to the meeting, the board handed out a fact sheet on the issue that said neither coach has been fired or asked to resign.

"If Mr. Burcham or Mr. Lutz wishes to remain in their teaching positions, the board agrees to allow them to do that," the fact sheet stated.

But the coaches’ request must come to the board through the Ironton Education Association (IEA) teachers’ union and any salary increases must be negotiated, it stated.

Board president Rayetta Waldo reiterated those points several times during the meeting.

"We agree with that factual account," she said after the coaches spoke. "Upon legal advice, we are supportive, but we have to go through the process."

Union president Mary Ann Philabaun said the coaches have not approached the union.

"The association does not have a problem with Mr. Burcham or Mr. Lutz," Mrs. Philabaun said. "Everybody is a member of the bargaining unit because when you bargain, you bargain for every teacher," she said.

Although the coaches are not members of the IEA, they are members of the bargaining unit and may submit proposals to the union for consideration.

If they do submit a proposal, it goes before the IEA’s negotiating team. That team decides whether or not to present the proposal to the board of education, Mrs. Philabaun said.

Negotiations with the board would continue until an agreement is reached and then the agreement is submitted to the IEA membership for a final vote, she said.

Senior football player Jimmy Peyton spoke first for students at Tuesday night’s meeting – called because students protested Friday in support of the coaches’ retirement plans.

Holding back tears, and in a choked voice, Peyton explained the coaches have been like family to players and the high school’s student body.

"I felt this meeting should take place because of the controversial issue of two men I love very dearly," he said. "They deserve what they’re asking for."

Other students said they, their parents and the community were willing to do anything to keep the coaches at Ironton High.

Sophomore Jerry Massie said he had never played under Lutz or Burcham but they have earned the respect of the town.

"All you can hear is little kids who say all they want to do is play Ironton football," Massie said.

"If they leave, I myself would," he added, bringing hundreds of students and adults to their feet to cheer.

Student Hannah Thomas said the coaches deserved a coaching-only position and without funds generated by the football program, there would not be other high school programs.

"I hope the decision will benefit all those concerned I hope the decision reflects what the students want," Miss Thomas said.

The board said no proposal was before them to act upon but offered the community a chance to speak at the April 17 regular board meeting.

The specific purpose of the Tuesday night meeting was to listen to the high school student body, Mrs. Waldo said.

"There is no formal proposal before the board for us to consider therefore that is all we will address this evening," she said.

Peyton asked that board members consider another meeting so community members could participate and the board could answer questions.

"We never asked you to only be in a listening mode," Peyton said. "We wanted responses."

Mrs. Waldo again said no board member was against the coaches’ idea.

"We welcome them to stay if that’s what they want to do, but if they want any changes, they must go through the bargaining unit."