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New coach rating system goes beyond team record

Evaluating the work of athletic coaches in the Lackawanna School District is going beyond how their teams rank in the win-loss columns.

Last week, the School Board approved negotiated agreements that include an evaluation form that grades coaches' performance on a numerical basis. A score of 69 or less -- out of a possible 99 -- means the job will be posted as a vacancy for which the incumbent coach can apply, along with others interested in it.

"In the past, the district has never had any kind of formal evaluation of our coaching staff," Superintendent Paul G. Hashem explained. When it came to appointments, "both the [Lackawanna Teachers Federation] and the administration thought this was too much, at times, a friendship or popularity contest."

Further, "there has been some discussion among parents and among players with the Board of Education and the administration regarding the fairness of appointing coaches and the coaching staff," Hashem said.

The evaluation form, to be filled out by the district's athletic director, has six categories, further broken down into 35 qualities for which coaches are rated a one, two or three.

Among the scoring categories are theory and techniques, and public relations.

A seventh category involves certification and requires a "yes" or "no" answer. Should a coach fail to complete or maintain state coaching certification, it means an automatic disqualification for the next coaching year.

According to state Education Department regulations, anyone with a valid certificate to teach physical education may coach any sport in any school, provided a first-aid requirement is met.

Teachers certified in other subjects also must meet the first-aid requirement, and must complete additional courses -- including one on the theory and techniques of coaching their particular sport -- within a set period of time.

Non-teacher coaches have to meet all of the requirements of certified teachers, as well as obtain a temporary coaching license from the district's Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
Coaching appointments are made for one year and typically are made in June because many coaches, particularly for soccer and football, like to start practices in August. Coaches are paid stipends ranging from $2,075 for assistant volleyball coaches to $5,079 for the head football coach.

The agreements also require that all applicants for coaching jobs be interviewed and provide a process for coaches to challenge their evaluations.

"We're going to re-evaluate it after a year," Hashem said. "I think it's a pretty good start."


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