|School systems hire sports coaches differently
Finding the right coaches for sports in both school districts isn’t something officials take lightly.
But Loudon County and Lenoir City school systems have slight operational differences in the hiring process.
“Typically we’ll have coaches make recommendations to us based upon folks that they feel like can come in and work with our programs, and I will say 99 percent of the time that’s a pretty seamless process in the fact that we’ll bring those folks in, we’ll take the coach’s recommendation and do a background screen,” Jason Vance, Loudon County director of schools, said. “If the background screen comes back positive, or rather if it (doesn’t) come back negative, there’s no background information that we feel is inappropriate for the vision that we have for our school system, we’ll put those folks on the board agenda and recommend the board to approve them for that season.”
Although Loudon County Board of Education approves coaches, Vance has the authority to revoke the decision if he believes the person won’t work out. Vance said he makes it a practice to get the board’s blessing before moving forward with a hire.
Lenoir City hires don’t require approval by Lenoir City Board of Education, instead relying only on Superintendent Jeanne Barker to make the final call based upon recommendations from administrators and Lenoir City High School Athletic Director Greg Boling.
“I always give (the school board) that information,” Barker said for any hires. “Daron (Douglas, human resources specialist) gives me every quarter, every three months, an HR report and we give that as information to our school board so that they know who is new and if anybody’s changed from one position to another position within the school district. So it’s information. Now we have conversations a lot but they don’t have that, they’re not a step in that process. “... We do the background check after they’ve been recommended for hire, not before, because that costs us something,” she added.
Vance said although background checks are commonplace for coaching hires, there are some exceptions. Those active in the military or first responders are not required to have a background check as long as officials believe they are in good standing.
“We don’t do background checks on emergency responders like police, firemen, people that work for the military, those kind of folks because they’ve already been vetted and background checks (are done) through local law enforcement, TBI, FBI folks, but for all other agencies, all other individuals we would background-check those guys,” Vance said. “... I think if they’re in the military on active duty then we would not do a background check. If they’re not actively engaged in those emergency responder-type situations then we would have a background check for them.”
Background checks are typically needed before Loudon County BOE makes a hire, Vance said, but there have been times in the past where people were brought on board before the check was complete.
“We’ve had a couple instances where we felt like there wouldn’t be any issues as well,” Vance said. “We put them on the board agenda and there were not (issues). We have had one instance during this year and during my tenure that I felt like I had to revoke that privilege, and so we had approved them at the board meeting and once I got the background check I felt like it was appropriate to decline the approval of that coach at that point.”
Vance declined a potential Loudon High School baseball coach in late November after the hire was approved pending a background check at the Nov. 9 school board meeting. The position would have been paid, Vance said.
Vance has since made it a practice to ensure the check comes through before any decision is made.
“That’s my practice from that point forward, and sometimes it’s not very timely but I think in order to ensure that we’ve got everything appropriately in place that that’s obviously a good practice to have for future meetings,” Vance said.
School coaching staffs are comprised of paid and unpaid positions.
“We have a lot of volunteer coaches,” Barker said. “Once again, it’s a recommendation from our athletic director.”
For those who are paid, supplementary salaries top out at 10 years for both districts, although the pay is different. Coaches at Lenoir City without experience can make anywhere from $1,591-$6,766, while Loudon County coaches can make $572-$6,287. Maxed out at Lenoir City ranges between $2,229-$9,472, while Loudon County’s is $744-$8,173.
“We’ve got a procedure in place that says these coaches are paid, these coaches are volunteers,” Vance said. “We have a structure in place that outlines that already so we don’t have guess work. ... Like at the high school you’ve got a head basketball coach. We’ve got a paid position for that and a paid assistant basketball coach in position. Everybody else that helped would be a volunteer. So we’ve got a structure in place that says very specifically who would get paid and then everybody else in addition to that would just simply be a volunteer.”