In Scottsdale, coaches could be budget-cut casualties

In Scottsdale, coaches could be budget-cut casualties

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In Scottsdale, coaches could be budget-cut casualties

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Buck Holmes has been coaching at Scottsdale Coronado for 28 years. He knows every inch of the campus and every corner of the south Scottsdale community.

He’s had chances to coach elsewhere, at schools with bigger budgets and better facilities. But he’s chosen to stay at Coronado.

“The ability to do it for so long in the same community, you typically don’t see that,” said Holmes, the longtime baseball coach who also started coaching varsity girls soccer this season. “I still like being around kids and trying to make an impact on their lives.”

Hopefully, Holmes will continue to have that opportunity.

Last November, voters turned down Scottsdale Unified School District’s proposed budget override. As a result, the district has to cut $9.8 million from its budget, and today’s the day teachers are supposed to find out if they’ll have jobs next year.

“I think it’s a scary time for everybody in the district,” Scottsdale Saguaro football coach Jason Mohns said. “Everybody in general is concerned right now because the cuts are looming.”

The uncertainty already has cost the district one coach. Scottsdale Desert Mountain’s Todd Fazio, concerned he’d lose his job as a physical education teacher, left to become the basketball coach at Mesa Red Mountain, which offered him a full-time teaching position.

Fazio may soon have company. Chris Young is the girls basketball coach at Scottsdale Saguaro. In February, he led Saguaro to its first state championship in the sport. But because he doesn’t have as many points as other P.E. teachers — the district’s evaluation system is a points-based methodology — he could lose his job. “And I wouldn’t be able to coach if I lost my teaching position,” Young said.

Young hasn’t told his players he might not be around when practice begins next fall. But he has informed some parents so “they wouldn’t be blindsided in the case the worse did happen.”

Mohns doesn’t have as many points as Young. His job situation is perilous. But he’s already let his players know he’ll be their coach next season.

“Whether I have a job on campus or not, I made a commitment those guys and they made a commitment to me,” said Mohns, who added it’s easier for him to make the sacrifice because he’s single and has no children. “It’s not ideal, but I’ll find something to pay my bills so I can be with them. I’m not going to leave.”

With 28 years of coaching, Holmes seemingly would be immune to job reductions or displacements. But the points system the district uses doesn’t place value on seniority. Holmes has a full-time contract for the 2013-14 school year, but only half the day is guaranteed to be at Coronado, and he’s not certain it will be feasible or even make sense to remain as coach if his afternoons are spent at another school.

“I won’t be on campus to monitor the kids as much as I have in the past,” Holmes said. “I guess it depends on where they put me. Right now no one has told me I’m not coaching, but I guess it would just come down to, ‘Do I want to?’

“After all these years being on campus full-time, it would just be different.”

Holmes, 50, would hate to leave Coronado and coach elsewhere. He’s not a climber, going from one job to the next in search of the perfect place and the best opportunity to win. But if he can’t coach the way he believes he needs to coach, he might have to sacrifice his ideal for practicality.

“I’ve been approached a few times over the years, people asking, ‘Hey, would you be interested?’ ” Holmes said. “I’d always say no. You like to think you’re a part of something.

“But who knows. I’d have to maybe revisit that again.”

That would be a shame.

An institution shouldn’t lose an institution.

Reach Bordow at scott.bordow@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-7996. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/sBordow

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