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Miami-Dade Must Pay High School Coaches More UPDATED

School Board member Steve Gallon, at left, and superintendent of schools Alberto CarvalhoEXPAND
School Board member Steve Gallon, at left, and superintendent of schools Alberto Carvalho
Courtesy Miami-Dade School Board
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For too many years, coaches at Miami-Dade Public Schools have put in long hours working for peanuts. In many instances, the small amount they earn vanishes when they purchase food and clothing for their athletes. Sometimes they even cover light bills and copayments for doctor visits.

This week the School Board can take the first step toward paying the coaches what they deserve. 

School Board member Dr. Steve Gallon III wants to start a study now — in consultation with the teachers union — to give coaches the raise they deserve.

Miami-Dade high school teachers make about $43,000 per year on average. Football coaches, who receive the biggest supplements for work with athletes, get $4,700 or so beyond that, according to the Gainesville Sun. This totals about $48,000 per year — for men and women who are among the most likely in the nation to send players to college and the NFL.

That is far less than salaries in school districts around the state and in Alabama, Georgia, and Texas, where football coaches in particular are paid ridiculous money. In the Lone Star State, each of the top ten high school football coaches makes more than $124,000 a year, according to an analysis by Miami-Dade Public Schools staff.

While paying six-figure sums is excessive, Miami's coaches have at least earned the right to be paid salaries that reflect the market. According to the analysis, 19 other Florida school districts — not including large districts such as Broward, Palm Beach, and Orange Counties — pay coaches more than Miami-Dade, where the cost of living is the among the highest in the nation. In tiny Bay County, for example, where living costs are much lower than Miami, a head football coach’s starting salary is $63,000 and can reach up to $82,219.

Because of the disparity, coaches are leaving Miami-Dade for other school districts in Florida and Southern states, or taking jobs at major universities. Consider, for instance, the case of Telly Lockette, the former championship coach at Miami Central High who left to become a University of Central Florida assistant coach in 2013. Today, Lockette coaches tight ends at Florida State University.

Gallon's proposal directs superintendent Alberto Carvalho to work with the United Teachers of Dade to come up with a proposal for the School Board that can be approved in June — in time for next school year’s budget. The proposal is to include not just those who coach football, but also track and field, volleyball, basketball, soccer, swimming, and more.

Many coaches do more than just sports. I know. I am a volunteer coach at Miami Edison High School. We make sure student-athletes maintain good grades, train their bodies, and pursue scholarships.

I wrote a column back in 2010 advocating for higher coaches' salaries. Now It’s time to give them their due.

The meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday, February 13, at the county school administration building, 1450 NE Second Ave.

Update: The school board unanimously approved the measure.

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