Trainers to Work Football Games; Questions Remain

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According to Turlock Unified School District officials athletic trainers will be present during Pitman and Turlock High School football games this season, despite the elimination of overtime for trainers.

TurlockCityNews.com reported last week that parents were told trainers would not be present for football games, as a district policy change would no longer pay trainers overtime to work the games. According to the district, the trainers will now be present at the football games, thanks to a change in scheduling.

But it remains unclear how the trainers' presence during football games of all levels (freshman, junior varsity and varsity) will affect their presence at other fall sports.

According to California School Employees Association Representative Kyle Harvey, the district has funded the trainers for eight hours per day for 220 days. In the past overtime funds were needed to provide what the CSEA says is the necessary flexibility for trainers to support health needs of student athletes.

It is also unclear if trainers will definitively be available before and after football games and for therapy sessions throughout the week.

TUSD Superintendent Sonny Da Marto said that, “each school’s principal has created a schedule that fits the needs of their athletes.”

In the past, according to Harvey, trainers were authorized 150 hours of paid overtime and if a trainer exceeded that time they were compensated with 1.5 hours of comp time for each additional hour past the 150 hours of overtime. Harvey explained that this was built into the contract to allow flexibility for trainers during the long days of football season, or during tournaments that can go on for several days in other sports.

“In the fall during football season the men might work a 12 hour day, coming in at 11 a.m. and treating injuries and preparing the players' wraps for the games and then being available during and after the game to treat injuries and evaluate the players. The same goes for the other major sports seasons. During the time the trainers were not needed for an 8 hour day they would use the comp time they accumulated during the busy season to keep them in paid status,” Harvey explained in an email to TurlockCityNews.com.

Pitman Principal Rod Hollars says Pitman’s trainer will be on hand this Saturday when the Pride open their season against Enochs High School. He could not discuss further details because personnel issues are confidential.

Harvey says the CSEA sent TUSD “several” e-mails last week, demanding a cease and desist from contract alterations and a demand to bargain on behalf of the athletic trainers. The district has refused to cooperate, he said. Harvey indicated that it is likely a breach of contract for TUSD to cut overtime hours without proper negotiations with the union, if authorized overtime was included in their original contract.

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