Talks break down over high school referee fees
BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana High School Athletics Association said Tuesday talks abruptly broke down Tuesday with the state's sports officials' group over how high school referees were to be paid.
LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said they'd been in discussion with the Louisiana High School Officials Association for the past two weeks about a fees schedule the LHSOA sent out to 400 Louisiana schools in May. The new schedule called for "modest" raises in the fees which paid for those officials to work football, baseball, and other high school sports events.
The LHSAA said any schools which agreed to the contracts would be in violation of their handbook. The LHSOA said their referees will not work without a contract in 2015-2016.
In their letter to schools, the LHSOA said they've received only two fee increases in the past 25 years and that high school principals voted to decrease pay at a recent convention by eliminating some fees for baseball and softball umpires.
"Over the entire history of the current construct where high school principals have oversight for officials' fees, there has never been an officials' fee increase approved at a regular meeting of principals," LHSOA President Paul LaRosa said in the letter. "Our new process is intended to give our officials the opportunity to realize the fair treatment they deserve as independent contractors responsible to deliver high quality services."
On Tuesday, Bonine acknowledged that Louisiana officials were the second lowest paid in the region and said he would push for a fee increase starting in 2016. Such an increase must be approved by the participating schools' principals.
Bonine said the question now is which of the state's 1,084 football referees will work this coming football season. He also said the LHSAA is starting to organize officials on their own in case those referees refuse to officiate games this fall.