Home / Opinion/Editorial / Musings From Clay County Missouri / Musings: Northland Football Coaches Play High Priced Musical Head Coach

Musings: Northland Football Coaches Play High Priced Musical Head Coach

Six Figure Salaries Rumored to be Part of the Movement

TheNorthlandNews.com Editor and Publisher and Former Public School Teacher, Andrew Palmer, Asks Some Uncomfortable Questions

On Friday I was contacted by a source that wished to remain nameless. This individual said there was going to be some interesting movement in the Northland when it came to football coaches.

According to this person, North Kansas City School District offered Kearney High School head coach Greg Jones an amount in the lower six figure range to leave Kearney High School and coach at Oak Park High School.

Oak Park High School has returned dismal records the past several years including a 0-10 season in 2016. Meanwhile, Jones has taken the Kearney Bulldogs to the state championship game the last two years. The Bulldogs won in 2015 and came up just short this past year.

According to the source, Jones first turned this salary down wishing to stay in Kearney. Per data available from the Missouri Department of Education (DESE), Jones was making a total of $90,146 working for the Kearney School District during the 2015-16 season. His contract featured a $21,600 stipend for extra duty, and an additional $3,570 for extended contract pay.

In public education coaches are often required to work as teachers in some capacity. Last I knew, Jones was a PE and weightlifting instructor for Kearney High. The $21,600 was probably the stipend for his coaching duties. I suspect the $3,570 had something to do with summer school, but I don’t know that for a fact. Interestingly, my source claims that Jones was offered a position with Oak Park that didn’t even include classroom duties.

I was told that once Jones turned down Oak Park’s offer, they approached Liberty North High School Coach Ken Clemens and offered him more than what was offered to Jones. Clemens took the position with North Kansas City and it was then that Liberty offered Jones even more money to come to Liberty North. I’ve been told that Clemens’ salary may be close to $115,000 and Jones’ new contract is somewhere close to $125,000.

I had hoped to confirm these numbers before publication, but I decided to go ahead and run with this as it’s happening right now as we speak. If I’m wrong, I’ll correct the record. If I’m right, I suppose we all have something worth discussing, don’t we?

According to DESE data, Clemens made $74,500 last year working for Liberty North with an extra duties contract of $18,900.

I tried to get ahold of Dallas Ackerman this morning with the Liberty School District to at least find out when Jones’ announcement was going to be public. Ackerman is Liberty’s director of communications and marketing (apparently Liberty sells stuff, too). Surprisingly he never called back today.

About 3:40 PM, someone sent me a screenshot of a Tweet from the Liberty School District announcing the hiring of Jones.

Wouldn’t you know…no salary information included in the Tweet, I mean press release, I mean press release Tweet…

What’s strange about the announcement is that it came on Twitter and not on the district website or even on Facebook. Also, you cannot find a copy of the press release on the Liberty School District web page as of publication. A search of Greg Jones on the Liberty site returns no information as well.

It’s a strange place to make an announcement. When you look at social media usage, only about 25% of social users use Twitter. Facebook is around 75%. Plus, you’d think if you hired this new coach, and if the salary information is accurate, you’d definitely want people to know about it. After all, Liberty is pretty proud of of their Building Pride Campaign in which they raised $2.5 million dollars for the district’s activities complexes.

A look at the Oak Park High School MSHSAA Athletics page does show former Liberty North High School football coach Ken Clemens as the new head coach and offensive coordinator. I searched the North Kansas City School District page and found no announcement from them either. I couldn’t find anything on their social channels. The only other place I’ve found online that acknowledged the movement was on Preps KC and a KC Star article. The Star article didn’t mention the Oak Park change.

So you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this?

I spent five years in public education. One of the common refrains you hear inside of public education and from public education supporters is something along the lines, “Oh, woe is us, we never have enough money.”

But, despite all the starving teachers in America, especially in the ritzier suburbs, the “poor, underfunded” schools always seem to have ample money to fund their sports teams. Especially the football program.

When you look at statistics like the following it gets even worse. The median salary for a teacher in Liberty North is $51,225, in Kearney it’s $54,483, and in North Kansas City it’s $54,240. Greg Jones made close to $35,663 more than the average teacher in the Kearney School District. If the salary numbers I’ve been told are accurate, he’ll be making nearly double the average teacher’s salary at Liberty North.

I realize I’m singling out specific coaches by name and publishing their personal salaries for all to see. Save me the lecture on “privacy”, taxpayers pay these people, and they chose to work in a public school for the taxpayers. That’s part of the gig. Walk it off.

(Want to know what someone makes in your local public school? Click HERE for the 2015-16 data.)

You know how much the head volleyball coach at Oak Park High School gets paid on their stipend? A whopping $6,534 for extra duty.

The first response from people that don’t like me Musing on this topic will be something along the lines of, “Oh, but sports provides such value to the student bodies and the students that play them.”

Or, it’ll come in the form of, “Had it not been for sports that kid would’ve never made it through school.”

Maybe, but if that’s your argument, and our public schools are supposedly this great experiment in equality, shouldn’t there be far more equality in salary across the board? Shouldn’t coaches be in parity with one another regardless of the sport they coach, because not all boys are talented volleyball players and not all girls get to be the star quarterback.

The next argument will follow somewhere along the lines of, well, sports create an income stream for the district, and football creates more income than any other sport. The funny thing about this is it would actually be an argument based upon markets which would be really confusing considering it would be coming from the anti-markets crowd. Suddenly the people who are always screaming about the importance of equality seem to like inequality because it creates an argument in favor of the thing they like.

Meanwhile, in your local public school, the science teacher, the English teacher, the math teacher, and even the history teacher toils away. There’s a good chance one of those English teachers are grading over 100 essays right now or that Math teacher is planning tomorrow’s lesson.

Yeah, those teachers who arguably create more long term value for society receive no stipend and are forced into a salary schedule that, ironically, strictly enforces equality in salary.

It’s my intention in the coming weeks to start to look at just how much sports are costing taxpayers of Northland school districts.

Stay tuned folks, this might get interesting.

About Andrew Palmer