VENTURA — Parents and players representing the boys' volleyball teams at Buena and Ventura highs are asking the Ventura Unified School District to begin paying stipends to the coaches.
The school district remunerates all coaches at both schools except for walk-on assistants in various sports. However, since the boys' volleyball teams were formed in 1989, the district, citing funding shortages, has placed the burden of paying the coaches on the parents of the players.
Parents and players have raised approximately $5,000 each season for the varsity and junior varsity coaches through a variety of fund-raisers. But at Tuesday's school board meeting, volleyball supporters asked the district to assume payment, pointing out that all other Ventura County volleyball coaches are paid by their respective districts.
Supporters also suggested that the school board might be violating Title IX, the federal law guaranteeing equal access in athletics for males and females.
Ironically, the law was passed to promote girls' and women's sports. The district pays stipends to its girls' volleyball coaches. "We brought up the Title IX issue to illustrate the issue of fairness," said Christine Coil, a Buena parent and president of the booster club. "Hopefully it made the situation clearer to the board members."
Royal Coach Bob Ferguson had to fund his own program for four years, beginning in 1986.
"I think it helped when we won two section championships," Ferguson said. "It was hard for them not to fund a team that was doing well. Our success helped."
Steve Berk, who established a program at Chatsworth in 1974, became Buena's coach last year. "It can get real draining during the season when I have to ask them every week to do something to raise money," Berk said.
Ventura girls' Coach Mike Russell coached the boys' team two years ago and experienced the same problems as did Buena.
He left the boys' team after one season, partially because of the awkwardness of having to raise funds for his stipend.
"I hope they either have the money or redistribute the pot to get their share," Russell said. "I'm sure if the board looks at the situation and how the boys are established, this will be resolved."
The school board will study the proposal in a budget meeting on Oct. 12 and may decide the issue by the next board meeting on Oct. 25, said Jerry Dannanberg, the assistant superintendent for human resources. If approved, coaches would receive payment when the boys' season starts in February.
Fund-raisers are used by all sports teams with the money earmarked for improvement to the program such as uniforms, equipment and tournament fees.
Because most of Buena's fund-raising is focused on paying coaches, the boys' team currently uses equipment from the girls' team bought new each fall.
"I don't think it's a question if they should afford to pay the coaches," Buena senior Zach Coil said. "I think the school board simply should pay for our coaches to make everything equal."