Winter Schedule Chills Many Coaches : City basketball: 50% of survey respondents threaten to relinquish duties over LAUSD year-round calendar proposal.


The basketball season has ended for most of the coaches and players at area City Section schools. Yet for some City coaches, it might be over, period.

According to an informal show of hands, as many as half of the boys’ coaches in the Valley likely would not return next season in the wake of a Los Angeles Unified School District decision to adopt a year-round calendar.

On Monday, the school board is expected to hear a pair of proposals that could determine the winter sports calendar for next season. The variables are many, as are opinions on which direction the district should head.


When the school district moves to a year-round calendar July 9, most if not all of the area’s 18 City Section schools that field teams in boys’ basketball will adhere to a single-track schedule and take an eight-week break beginning Dec. 20, which cuts through the heart of basketball season.

Under one proposal, the winter 1991-92 season would remain the same, running from late November to mid-February. Those who choose to remain as coaches over the break in effect would lose half of their annual vacation time. Under the traditional calendar, teachers receive a three-month summer vacation.

Most coaches believe a pay hike is warranted for next season because teachers who are not involved in extracurricular activities will be given the eight-week period--two weeks of which is the traditional holiday break--off.

Nine of 18 area coaches said that they would not return next season unless they were given an increase in their coaching stipend of approximately $1,700 or granted a raise in salary. Seven coaches said they would remain, pay hike or not, and two were undecided. Most of the coaches considering resignation said money would be a primary consideration in their decision.

City Section Commissioner Hal Harkness predicted that the district, facing millions of dollars in budget cuts, would find it difficult to channel additional funding to teachers of extracurricular activities, such as basketball. Yet being asked to coach without more pay did not sit well with many of those polled.

“I love coaching basketball,” said Chatsworth’s Gary Shair, a 30-year district employee and one of nine coaches who said he might resign. “But if you’ll do it for nothing, they’ll pay you nothing.”

He might not have to follow through, depending on which direction the school board takes. Last month, a group of coaches from a variety of sports voted to recommend that the 1991-92 schedule should adhere to its current start date. Dan Isaacs, superintendent of the senior high division, is expected to outline for the board Monday the group’s recommendation as well as an alternative plan.

The alternative proposal, which Harkness and others have dubbed the “consolidated calendar,” calls for the basketball season to be moved back one month to early November, allowing league play to be completed before the holiday break begins Dec. 20.

Taft basketball Coach Jim Woodard predicted that the City will opt for the consolidated calendar. Major logistic problems exist if the current schedule remains intact, including finding transportation to games and practices for players who are bused to the Valley. Funding for security and administrative supervision also is a major concern.

“I’m convinced they’ll back it up,” Woodard said of the schedule. “The problems, right now, are insurmountable.”

The consolidated calendar tentatively has intra-City divisional playoffs scheduled to begin in February, at the conclusion of the eight-week break. City championship teams would advance to the state playoffs, which begin in early March.

Harkness said teams would be allowed to compete in holiday tournaments. Also under discussion is a plan that would allow some teams to compete in summer-league-style play with other City teams during the break once the holiday tournaments conclude.

“We would allow coaches of playoff teams to have some contact at that time,” Harkness said. “We’re prepared to deal with that. But we would have to decide what level of activity we’d allow.”

Presumably, coaches of playoff-bound teams who could arrange player transportation would be allowed to continue holding practices over the break, even if the “summer-league” plan falls through. However, if additional compensation is not forthcoming, some might not bother.

Birmingham’s Al Bennett and San Fernando’s Dick Crowell said that they would welcome teaching over the six-week period if inter-session classes are offered. The district briefly discussed a plan wherein such courses would be taught over the break--akin to summer school--and Bennett believes most coaches would choose to stick around.

Harkness, however, called the idea “unworkable.” He said that physical education courses have never been offered during summer school and many coaches are not credentialed teachers in academic subjects. Second, Harkness said that busing has never been offered for summer school, which would complicate player transportation. Furthermore, summer school ends each afternoon at 12:30 and athletic events have never been scheduled in midday, Harkness said.

Some coaches want no part of either schedule. Verdugo Hills Coach Hector Ornelas said he doesn’t want to teach over the break, inter-session or otherwise, and predicted that his players would prefer vacation time as well.

“I don’t want to be there and neither will the kids,” he said. “Nobody else would be there (to watch us play), anyway. It’s not worth it.”

Van Nuys Coach Ken Lee believes it will be easy to find replacement coaches, if those who have threatened to quit actually follow through. “Coaches are a dime a dozen,” Lee said. “They’ll always find some young guy right out of college to do it.”

Canoga Park’s Jeff Davis, vice president of the L. A. Coaches’ Assn., equated coaching over the winter break to running teams in summer-league play.

“We do it over the summer, and there’s no real difference,” said Davis, who said he would coach over the break.

Even Grant’s Howard Levine, who said he would continue coaching “for free,” admitted the proposed changes could throw a wrench in his off-season plans.

“I’m a teacher because I didn’t want to change my lifestyle from the time I was 13 years old,” said Levine, referring to his summer vacations, which he now spends playing golf and serving as an usher at Dodger Stadium. “Now I’m just another full-time working stiff.”

VALLEY BASKETBALL COACHES POLL * Question A: Will you coach over the proposed six-week break next season without additional financial compensation?

* Question B: Will you coach over the break with an increase in pay or your coaching stipend?

School Coach Question A Question B BIRMINGHAM Al Bennett Undecided Undecided CANOGA PARK Jeff Davis Yes Yes CHATSWORTH Gary Shair No No CLEVELAND Kevin Crider No Undecided EL CAMINO REAL Mike McNulty Yes Yes GRANADA HILLS Bob Johnson No No GRANT Howard Levine Yes Yes KENNEDY Yutaka Shimizu No Undecided MONROE Wendell Greer Jr. and Yes Yes Paul Graber NORTH HOLLYWOOD Steve Miller Yes Yes POLY Jay Werner Yes Yes RESEDA Jeff Halpern No Undecided SAN FERNANDO Dick Crowell No Undecided SHERMAN OAKS CES Mac Becker Undecided Yes SYLMAR Larry Link No Undecided TAFT Jim Woodard Yes Yes VAN NUYS Ken Lee No Undecided VERDUGO HILLS Hector Ornelas No No