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West Allis School Board seeks fair pay for play in coaching ranks

Coach Vinette Immekus (left) and Assistant Coach Amber Braaten watch the performance of some of the 45 students trying out for the West Allis Central Pom Pon team on April 10. Team members are active for 11 months, from April through the end of the basketball season in March.

Coach Vinette Immekus (left) and Assistant Coach Amber Braaten watch the performance of some of the 45 students trying out for the West Allis Central Pom Pon team on April 10. Team members are active for 11 months, from April through the end of the basketball season in March. Photo By C.T. Kruger

April 23, 2013

West Allis - The West Allis-West Milwaukee School District will take another look at the fairness of pay for coaches and team advisers.

Some School Board members recently questioned why pom program coaches, who are almost always women, make far less than football coaches. The pom season is much longer, summer practices are four to five hours and the pom program involves more students per coach, they said.

"It feels like a gender inequity, if I may say," said School Board President Sue Stalewski.

Making comparisons

The board noticed the apparent disparity while it was considering all coaching and advising contracts.

The poms head coach at each high school receives $3,450 covering both the school year and summer, while football head coaches receive $3,700 for the season, said Blain Fowler, district athletic director.

Football coaches have six assistant coaches, who usually split a separate $3,100 stipend and usually a portion of the head coach pay, Fowler said. There are no assistant coaches in poms.

The Nathan Hale poms coach has 20 students this year. The West Allis Central poms coach oversees 39 students - including a junior varsity squad that the coach created because she didn't want to cut any who tried out, Fowler said.

The Hale football program, far bigger than Central's, had 132 players this year, averaging 19 players per coach. Central had 85 players, or seven per coach.

The staff will study pay equity and report to the School Board this fall. The recommendations won't involve higher spending, however, for co-curricular contracts. The coach and club adviser contracts that the board reviewed contained no raises. In fact, they haven't seen raises since 2006.

Participation differences

Football isn't the only sport where Hale participation is higher than Central's, leading to somewhat related concern in sports equity. The staff also will come back with recommendations on whether some high school teams with low participation should be combined.

School Board members wanted to know particularly about combining soccer and golf.

Soccer participation lags so much at Central that School Board member Sue Sujecki suggested combining it with Hale.

That will be examined, but Fowler said the numbers are already high at Hale for soccer. But if participation sags even more at Central, combining the teams becomes a fair question, he said.

Board member Gail Radonski suggested boys golf could be combined.

Participation also is low in volleyball at both schools, prompting board member Annette Frymark to suggest the district doing more to encourage intermediate school youngsters' interest in the sport.

The schools have tried that but it didn't take hold, said Superintendent Kurt Wachholz.

Fowler added that the problem is competition from other sports.

"Football and soccer are high-participation sports and take boy athletes out of the mix," he said.

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