The Janesville School District’s coaching contracts state that “coaches who do not work a full season will have their pay prorated according to the number of days they worked.”

On Tuesday, members of the Janesville School Board opted to ignore that passage in favor of paying coaches 50% of their wages to show appreciation for the work they do.

The vote tally in favor of the move was 8-1 even though the spring sports season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday’s decision overturned an earlier administrative decision not to pay the coaches because they wouldn’t actually have been working during the season. Pay was prorated for a handful of coaches who had started working in accordance with the language in the coaching contracts, but that work only covered a small fraction of the spring sports season.

Board member Kevin Murray wanted the issue brought to the board. He proposed paying coaches in full.

In a previous interview with The Gazette, Murray argued that coaching doesn’t just take place during the season. Coaches work with students year-round, making sure they’re doing their school work, attending open gyms and generally behaving themselves.

Cathy Myers, who teaches in the Hononegah School District in Illinois, supported the 100% payout.

“The coaches I know are still in contact with their players,” Myers said. “They’re still working with them.”

Other area school districts have also opted for 100% pay. These include Milton, Elkhorn, Lake Geneva Badger, Evansville, Brodhead, Beloit Turner, Clinton, Edgerton and Whitewater. Others are providing at least a portion of their coaches’ pay; Orfordville Parkview is paying 80%, Big Foot is paying 50% and Delavan-Darien is paying 10%.

The Janesville School District has 47 spring coaches at the middle and high schools. Paying them all at 100% would cost $178,700, Assistant Superintendent Scott Garner previously told The Gazette.

Providing full pay for no work during the season didn’t sit well with board member Lisa Hurda.

The board had just sat through a 45-minute presentation about the district budget for the next several years. Even setting aside the financial effect of the coronavirus pandemic, the district was facing a structural deficit that would have been difficult to overcome in its own right.

The pandemic has exacerbated the problem because it has adversely affected state revenue. Because schools make up the largest part of the state budget, districts fear there could be significant cuts to the state education budget for the 2020-21 school year, officials have said.

“We’ve got a train wreck coming down the pike,” Hurda said in reference to the budget issues. She acknowledged that pay for coaches wasn’t a large amount of the district’s total budget but said that every little bit matters.

Michelle Haworth said she supported giving the coaches something but not 100%.

Not all of the coaches were working virtually during the spring season, she said. In addition, the majority of coaches’ work does take place during the season, which was called off.

Haworth also wondered what would happen if sports were canceled in the fall and the district had to determine how much to pay them. If that comes to pass, Haworth said she would want coaches to meet some job expectations in order to be paid.

Board member Karl Dommershausen said paying the spring coaches something would be a gesture to “show our thanks.”