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ROGERS -- A salary schedule change may attract more candidates for the two head football coach positions open in Rogers' high schools.

Board members waived first reading and made an immediate change adding 10 teaching days to the head football coach contract, the first of three changes to the salary schedule Tuesday night.

Rogers 2016-2017 calendar

Rogers School Board members approved the 2016-2017 calendar Tuesday night. Key dates are:

• Aug. 15: First day of school

•Oct. 14: Vacation day

• Nov. 21-25: Thanksgiving break

• Dec. 21-Jan. 3: Winter break

• March 20-24: Spring break

• April 28: Vacation day

•May 26: Last day of school

Source: Rogers School District

The 10 teaching days represent a $4,000 difference in salary, said Roger Hill, assistant superintendent for human resources.

Teaching salaries are competitive in Rogers, Hill told the board. The head football coach salary isn't.

Hill took the salaries of head football coaches in the Arkansas Activities Association 7A Conference and compared them with what a coach would make in Rogers. The average gap was $13,367, he told board members.

Salaries have impacted past coaching searches, Hill said. Interviews for the coaching positions are scheduled this week, he said.

Board members presented with the change said they didn't think it went far enough.

"If we want to be competitive on the playing field we have to be competitive with our pay," said Lisa Anderson, board vice-president.

The change was approved by the Personnel Policies Committee on Tuesday afternoon, Superintendent Janie Darr said. Committee members read pages of teacher comments against the proposed change before approving it.

Board members asked about ways to up the salary during the meeting, but Darr told them some of the options they proposed could push coach pay past principal pay.

"I think there will be great concern from our teachers if we raise it much more," Darr told board members.

Darr, who will retire as superintendent this year, said she promised the teacher committee an evaluation of the entire salary schedule before contracts go out for the fall.

"I very much want to give our teachers a raise this year," Darr said.

Two other changes were made to the salary schedule.

A clause recognizing only teaching experience from an Arkansas institution of higher learning was eliminated, opening up experience from any nationally accredited institution.

Teachers are paid on a scale based on years of experience. An extenuating circumstances exception was added to the policy which previously capped the years of teaching experience at 13.

The two changes are connected to the coaching search but could also be invoked in high need areas such as a special education or chemistry teacher, Hill told the board.

"There are other hard-to-fill positions," Hill said.

The combination of changes will keep Rogers in play with prospective coaches longer, said Mark Holderbaum, athletic director.

Pay is one of the first things prospective candidates look at and the policy posted on the district website before Tuesday night showed an experience cap that can be hard to swallow. A candidate could have a state championship team, but slide down the pay scale by losing his out-of-state experience, Holderbaum said.

"Ten years on a teacher salary is a significant amount," he said.

The change has him optimistic, Holderbaum said.

He wants to tie up the search in the next couple weeks.

The new coaches need to be able to familiarize themselves with the coaching staff and the kids and prepare for offseason spring football in late May, he said.

There have been 33 candidates released by the district under a Freedom of Information Act earlier this year, several from out-of-state, Holderbaum said. The official pool of applicants will be bigger by the time the final decision is made as some have either been contacted by the district or their representatives have reached out, but the applicant hasn't submitted a formal application.

Perry Escalante, Heritage High School coach and Shawn Flannigan, Rogers High School coach both resigned following football season. The Heritage position was posted Nov. 23. The Rogers High position was posted Dec. 22.

Applications are still open for both coaching positions, administrators told the board.

The board also waived first reading and approved a new policy allowing them to attend meetings remotely. The immediate change was necessary as the board faces additional meetings during their superintendent search, Kristen Cobbs, board president, said.

The board approved a school calendar for next year that will give a weeklong break at Thanksgiving and a shorter Christmas break due in part to the way the holiday falls.

NW News on 01/20/2016

Print Headline: Board approves salary change to attract coaches

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