Brentwood residents packed the latest district board of education meeting to demand answers about the cutting of almost two dozen assistant sport coaches due to budget constraints.
After rumors circulated through social media that coaching positions were being axed, residents showed up en masse at Thursday's regular board meeting to ask about the staffing changes.
"We opted to support the children of the district rather than the adults of the district," said Brentwood Superintendent Joseph Bond when asked by parent Sandra Gil about the cuts. "The choice came down to eliminating teams or eliminating assistant coaches. We cut 21 assistant coaches . . . all teams still exist in middle school and high school."
Bond added that the discussions about possible cuts to assistant coaching positions happened earlier in the year, before the budget was passed.
District athletic director Kevin O'Reilly told residents at the meeting that he had budgeted to keep the coaching positions, but had to cut roughly $180,000 because negotiations with some of the district's bargaining units stalled.
School board members Keith Allison, Ana Martinez and newcomer Robert Feliciano said they're still negotiating and are working to restore the coaching positions.
"We have a lot of kids on our team, and it's always good to have more eyes and more voices in wrestling," Brentwood varsity wrestling coach Ralph Napolitano said by phone Friday. Napolitano said O'Reilly told him he will have to let go two of the five coaches on his staff, leaving three coaches to guide a team of about 80 kids.
"We'll definitely try our best to at least get one of our guys back," Napolitano said. "If I have to give him some of my coaching salary or whatever the case may be, we'll figure something out."
O'Reilly told residents at Thursday's meeting the cuts would leave 12 teams without assistant coaches.
The meeting also shed light on more positive news for district staffing: 12 teachers and a few other employees -- such as school psychologists and speech therapists -- are being brought back in 2013-14, after the district budgeted in the spring to lay off 74 teachers, and sent pink slips to 82.
"There was room to bring back eight teachers, and we got grants for the rest," Bond said, adding that most of the returning teachers would be English as a Second Language/bilingual, which is mandated because of the district's swelling ESL enrollment.
Former board member Joe Fritz said more staff positions could have been preserved if district employees sacrificed some of their pay to keep their colleagues afloat. "Coaches and teachers should have to work with less, just like the rest of us," Fritz said.
Sports offered at Brentwood High School
Boys and girls soccer
Boys and girls lacrosse
Boys and girls swimming
Boys and girls track
Boys and girls tennis
Boys and girls basketball
Boys and girls fencing