Fans cheer as board rehires Lutz, Burcham

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 9, 2000

With little comment Thursday night, Ironton Board of Education members rehired coaches Bob Lutz and Mike Burcham to their former supplemental contract positions as expected, and as fans cheered.

Friday, June 09, 2000

With little comment Thursday night, Ironton Board of Education members rehired coaches Bob Lutz and Mike Burcham to their former supplemental contract positions as expected, and as fans cheered.

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The unanimous decision came after an hour-long board executive session – half of which was spent with the coaches – and a recommendation by superintendent Steve Kingery.

The hirings are effective Aug. 1.

Board members also approved creating three new athletic positions – a part-time facilities director’s job, a supplemental physical training position and a supplemental assistant athletic director’s job.

Those positions will be posted for applications, with salaries currently under negotiation through the Ironton Education Association, Kingery said.

The board expects Lutz and Burcham to apply for those contracts as well, Kingery said.

A crowd of residents and athletic program supporters applauded after the board’s vote.

"I’m just glad that’s taken care of and now we can go back to work," Lutz said.

Lutz and Burcham announced earlier this year that they wanted to retire as teachers and remain in their athletic positions for several more years, which touched off a community and school board debate over procedures for their rehiring and the creation of new positions.

Board members said they considered several proposals from the coaches, with varying new salary ranges, and insisted they had to wait until the coaches’ official retirement and had to negotiate salaries with the union before making a decision.

Community members, other coaches and parents contended that the board should honor the 28-year football program veterans by agreeing to their request.

After several meetings, the coaches said they would not reapply because of frustration with the hiring process.

But the board issued a commitment May 31 to rehire them into their existing supplemental contract positions at the same salary levels.

Thursday night’s decision made that official.

Burcham was rehired as athletic director, coordinator of football and summer physical fitness director. Lutz was rehired as head football coach and given a summer physical fitness supplemental contract.

Any salary changes would be part of the overall teachers’ union contract currently under negotiation, Kingery said.

Parent Ed Fry said he was relieved about the board’s decision.

"There have been several sleepless nights in my house," he said, adding that his son plays football. "I’m just glad the ordeal is over."

Fry said the board’s actions could have come sooner and been simpler.

"But now is the time to get to work."

Next school year’s football players started working out last Monday, he said.

"I think the board acted responsibly and within the bounds of the law in trying to keep everybody’s interests in mind," board president Rayetta Waldo said after the meeting.

Some people questioned why the process took too long but they didn’t take time to learn the facts of the situation about what procedures had to be followed, Mrs. Waldo said.

They wanted the decision to come quickly but rules and regulations made that impossible, she said.

At several meetings, board members were questioned about "sticking points" they had with the coaches’ request.

Mrs. Waldo said the board could not legally enter into negotiations with Lutz and Burcham because, until the June 1 retirement date, they were still part of the IEA’s bargaining unit.

Trying to get board members and coaches to agree on contract positions also became a sticking point, Kingery said.

Job proposals the coaches presented did not mesh with the board’s ideas about the same positions, Mrs. Waldo said.

The proposals under consideration included items above and beyond coaching, she said.

That explanation is as specific as the board can be in public because it deals with personnel issues, Kingery added.

The newly-posted jobs include a variety of duties for applicants.

The part-time facilities director will prepare all athletic facilities for game days and supervise cleanup afterwards. The assistant athletic director reports directly to the athletic director. And the physical training person will work with athletes on physical training, Kingery said.