All athletic coaches in the Gilbert Unified School District will need a valid Arizona teaching certificate in order to coach next year.
The governing board voted 2-1 Tuesday night to approve new job descriptions for cheer and spirit squad coaches with the new requirement.
Board members Helen Hollands and Traci Klein voted in favor of the new guidelines with Van Dunham in opposition. Members Thad Stump and Linda Rollans were not present.
Dunham said coaches of other sports are already required to have a teaching certificate, but he is concerned that requiring cheer and spirit coaches to have a certificate could cause those programs to be dropped because those positions are hard to fill.
There are currently 162 junior high and 296 high school coaches in the Gilbert district. Of those, just 21 don’t currently have teaching certificates.
What a coach would need to do to become certified depends on that individual’s background, district spokeswoman Dianne Bowers said.
“Human Resources will work with (applicants) with what they need to obtain certification,” she said.
Dunham said he agrees it’s better to have certified teachers coaching, but at some schools it’s been hard to attract and retain cheer coaches.
“The board decided to raise the standard and if that meant closing down a program, that meant closing down a program,” Dunham said.
Dunham said he agrees with having higher standards, but not at the expense of student activities.
“I’d rather keep a program available, so students have the opportunity to do more things, than the possibility of having to close,” he said.
Bowers said board policies are routinely reviewed and updated by associate superintendent Dave Allison and a committee. The job descriptions, evaluation instruments and job requirements for coaches have been under review by a committee for nearly two years, she said.