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Digging Deeper: FWCS spring coaches frustrated after pay cut

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FORT WAYNE Ind. (WPTA21)- Anger and frustration from coaches of spring sports at Fort Wayne Community Schools.

Their seasons were canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak, and the coaches are receiving only half their pay.

“We had a text come out that said we were going to get paid full pay. Three weeks later I received a text that said we were only going to get half the pay,” said Matt Brumbaugh the head baseball coach for Northrop.

Baseball, like all of the spring sports never got to take the field, but Brumbaugh says that doesn't mean the coaches stopped coaching. Which is why he is frustrated after only receiving half his coaching stipend.

After finding out that FWCS is the only Allen County School district to cut the pay spring coaches receive, Brumbaugh is even more frustrated.

“You don’t do this for the money when you’re a coach, we all know that. We do it for the love of the game,” Brumbaugh said.

Brumbaugh has been coaching for 30 years, and says he's a Northrop guy through and through. “Could we go other places, I suppose we could. Do we want to? No,” he said.

Brumbaugh has spend 9 seasons as head coach, another 8 as the assistant and says he works hard to have a successful team that can compete.

“It’s a year-round thing. We start in September we go through October with IHSAA mandated rules that we can work out 2 days week. So we do that from September to October, then from there we take about a month and a half off, and were back out in January. We do 5 days a week in January and when season stars in March then we're a 6 day a week team,” Brumbaugh said.

But Brumbaugh says the coaching doesn't stop once they leave the diamond. “We do it to help kids and let them learn the game, teach them how to learn the game and just try to make them better people.”

After their season was canceled, Brumbaugh said the coaches received a text from the athletic director saying they would still receive their full pay, but three weeks later it was a different story.

Brumbaugh said, “Very disappointed, just wondered why. That money was budgeted for the 2019-2020 school year. So why didn’t we get paid for that when other school systems did get paid.”

Brumbaugh added, “Nothing from the school board or downtown in any kind. of whether it was email or text. We still have not received why we have not been paid and that’s frustrating and disappointing.”

The curve ball Brumbaugh says, is that while coaches were taking their cuts former Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson received a $20,000 "farewell" package.

“Not disappointing for her. $20,000 and the school board voted for it. We’re wondering what happened to us,” said Brumbaugh.

Late last month by a 5-1 vote, the board authorized a goodbye gift to the longtime superintendent who was earning $210,000 as a base salary in her final contract.

Brumbaugh said, “We’re employees for the school system and it almost feels like there’s no worth and were not really regarded by the school system and the people downtown.” He added, "It’s not about the pay but the bottom line is we're working a full year, do you know we’re working a full year or not. Do you know what our hours are and how we go about things as coaches?"

We took Brumbaugh's questions to FWCS officials, they declined our repeated requests for an interview, saying they weren't interested. Instead they sent us a statement that reads:

“When schools were closed in March, most spring sports had completed try-outs and were starting or about to start practices. Games had not yet begun. Because all practices would cease and no games would be played for the remainder of the year, FWCS decided to pay coaches half of their stipend. Track coaches received two-thirds of their stipend because their season starts earlier, and they had already received more of their stipend than other coaches. We appreciate the commitment coaches have to our students, which is why they received a portion of their stipend even though the spring season was canceled."

“We’ve not been told that, we have not received a written explanation as to why,” said Brumbaugh.

ABC21 checked with each of the other public school systems in Allen County, all of which lost their spring sports as well. Southwest, Northwest, and East Allen County Schools all said their coaches were paid in full.

We spoke with another coach in the Fort Wayne Community Schools' system who didn't want to go on camera or be named but said he didn't find out about not getting paid until he just didn't receive a paycheck.

As for the upcoming fall sports season? For now, hopes are high, but those coaching and playing sports ranging from football to cross country are watching developments very closely.

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Kaitlyn Kendall

Kaitlyn Kendall anchors ABC21 news at 5 and is the chief investigative reporter for the stations Digging Deeper team.

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