One key rallying point for the Louisiana High School Officials Association in its dispute with the LHSAA was its claim that high school officials have received only two small pay raises in the past 25 years.
A source Friday provided documentation to The Advocate of five pay raises that football officials have received since 1990-91, using past LHSAA handbooks as reference points. Through its archives, The Advocate confirmed pay raises were approved in 1995, 2007 and 2011, as well as a concession that allowed for two drivers to obtain mileage pay for travel in 2001-02.
“The officials, in particular the football officials, are saying they’ve gotten two raises in 25 years, and that’s not true,” the source told The Advocate.
Those LHSAA handbooks show pay raises dating to 1990-91 and include a $30 increase for regular-season football games and a $35 increase for playoffs passed by LHSAA member principals at a special meeting in 2007. The Advocate’s archives contain the same increase listed for 2007, though LHSOA past president Bryan Greenwood insisted in a late Friday email that the highest 2007 raise was $20 for regular-season games for the top football officials.
The information was unveiled two days before a meeting of the LHSOA’s executive committee at the Crowne Plaza. LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine and assistant executive director Keith Alexander, the coordinator of officials, are scheduled to meet with the LHSOA board at 1 p.m. Sunday.
LHSAA member principals rejected proposed pay raises for basketball and volleyball officials at their annual convention in January, helping to trigger the dispute with the LHSOA. Passage of a proposal that took away a partial payment given to softball and baseball officials who travel to game sites only to have games rained out also was a factor.
In May, the LHSOA sent contracts to member schools that mandated pay raises in seven sports, including football. Schools were told to sign the contract in order to have officials in 2015-16. Those contracts were deemed a violation of the LHSAA bylaws.
Most of the pay upgrades are modest, including a $5 increase that would give the highest-rated officials $90 for regular-season games. A $20 bump for the playoffs would give the top officials $115 per game.
Negotiations between the LHSAA and LHSOA reached an impasse June 23 when the LHSOA rejected Bonine’s request that officials work at their current pay scale for another year. Bonine said the delay would provide time to lobby for pay raises and other concessions, including the development of a regular schedule for pay increases and giving the LHSOA a greater voice in officials-related issues.
Since June 23, football officials groups in Alexandria, Lafayette and New Orleans have formally voted not to work games this fall unless the LHSOA contract demands are met. Past president Marlon Harrison indicated that the Baton Rouge-based officials group plans to follow suit, pending results of Sunday’s meeting.
On Wednesday, Bonine told a local radio show, Culotta & The Prince on 104.5-FM, that based on his research, the LHSOA is in violation of its own bylaws, which state that the officials group is required to follow LHSAA rules.
Bonine said his research showed that while the LHSAA formed the LHSOA, the officials’ group was never formally approved as an affiliate/subgroup like the Louisiana High School Coaches Association and Louisiana High School Athletic Directors Association. A day later on the same show, he asked the LHSOA to give him time to make the needed changes.
The LHSAA handbooks provide a stark contrast. The first approved raise in 1990-91 gave football officials $32 for regular-season games and $37 for the playoffs. Another $5 increase came in 1991-92.
Advocate archives show that:
- In January 1995 in Lafayette, LHSAA principals approved raises that gave football officials between $35 and $45 for regular-season games depending on certification levels and $50 for playoff games.
- In April 2007 at a special-called meeting in Lafayette, member principals approved pay increases for six sports that gave officials an average of $10 more per game in most sports. The Advocate archives show an increase of $30 for regular-season football games from $45 to $75 and $35 for playoffs to $85. One item not approved that day was a proposed schedule for future pay increases, which is a key issue for the LHSOA.
- In June 2011, one year after the LHSOA was incorporated, another specially-called meeting was held at Woodlawn High. The highest rated officials received a $10 raise to $85 and a boost to $95 for the playoffs.
Since 2010 when the LHSOA was formed, officials have been required to meet strict certification guidelines and to attend camps clinics while also paying $15 more per year in registration dues to the LHSAA. Greenwood said registration fees have increased $17 for 2015-16.
Follow Robin Fambrough on Twitter: @FambroughAdv.