South Florida public high schools produce champions in many sports. Everyone knows that, and everyone knows coaches play a key role, on and off the field.
“As a football coach we have to be their fathers, their big brothers, they come to us with all kinds of problems and as a coach, if you want to coach that kid you have to address those in D’s of problems, so we work 24 hours, 365 days,” said Max Edwards, the head football coach of state champion Miami Northwestern Senior High School.
Despite all that work, hours and hours after school and on weekends, varsity public school football coaches in Miami-Dade County get only a $4,700 stipend. In Broward, they receive an even lower supplement of $3,038.
Varsity basketball coaches make just over $2,900 extra dollars for the whole year in Miami-Dade and $2,600 in Broward. That includes off-season training and leagues, it’s not just a few months of work.
When you ask any coach why they do all that extra work, they’ll tell you they do the job because they love the impact they make.
“The incentive is definitely not money, we know that these coaches are passionate about what they do,” said Karla Hernandez-Mats, the president of the United Teachers of Dade teacher’s union, pointing out that most public school coaches are also teachers or counselors or work in some capacity as school employees.
“We don’t do it for the money but it’d be nice if you got compensated for the time you put in,” Edwards said.
Coach Edwards says Florida’s public school coaching stipends are a running joke among football coaches in some other states, where he says his counterparts make much more money for the same job. For example, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that high school football coaches in Texas, even at public schools, routinely earn more than $60,000 and many of them make six figures, meaning more than $100,000.
Nationwide, basketball coaches in public high schools make much less, but in some states, it’s common for them to receive supplements of more than $8,000.
“What we would love to have as coaches is for the state to recognize how important we are to the kids, academically and athletically, and I think to give us a higher stipend would be awesome, I don’t think we’re gonna cry about it or not coach for it or protest about it, because we love what we do,” Edwards said.
The UTD president says the state government in Florida shortchanges education in general, so there’s not enough money to pay teachers what they deserve, let alone raise the supplements for coaches.
“I’m calling on the state to make sure that they fund public schools adequately so the local districts can do what’s right,” Hernandez-Mats said.
So the legislature could raise education spending, which Gov. Ron DeSantis has pledged to do. From the perspective of the state’s high school coaches, that would be a slam dunk if it leads to higher stipends on the local level.
Miami-Dade Public Schools released this statement in response to our questions about this issue:
“Miami-Dade County Public Schools values the dedication of our athletic coaches who spend countless hours impacting the lives of student-athletes. Recognizing their tireless work, last year, the district convened an Athletic Coaching Supplement Committee comprised of athletic coaches, directors and trainers, principals, and union representatives, designed to review existing coaching supplements and to provide suggestions for improvement. Those recommendations remain under consideration and would be subject to collective bargaining,” said school district spokesperson, Daisy Gonzalez-Diego.