With neither varsity basketball coach reapplying for their position when the Lackawanna Trail School Board opted to repost, the positions remained vacant.
At the May 11 district board meeting, board president David Thorne, said, “Right now under Act 13, anyone who is currently on the roll must continue to be paid. In the event that we do have a season, we want to get coaches going on a voluntary basis at least, and then we have to see how Act 13 plays out at the end of the year.”
Matthew Rakauskas, Superintendent of Schools at Trail, clarified by adding, “Act 13 (of 2020) was set up so public schools would not be punished by this situation.”
Instead of hiring the coaches, administration chose to appoint Ben Domiano for boys and Joel Neitz for girls on a voluntary basis until more information is available for the upcoming school, year.
Rakauskas said, “It wouldn’t be fair to our taxpayers, to appoint coaches at full coach salary, and then not have a season, but still be committed to paying the contracted positions.”
Prior to the mandatory closings of schools on March 13, Trail had in fact been ready to interview both open positions.
Former coaches Christian Sunseri and Lauren Sheakoski, who coached Trail’s boys and girls varsity basketball teams respectively, were told their positions were being posted, and were able to reapply for the jobs. Neither coach pursued the position.
“We kind of put the brakes on for awhile, then a few weeks ago we came to the conclusion that we have to go through the process and make our recommendations,” said Rakauskas. “Hopefully, by July 1, we will know what stage we will be in.”
“If these were normal times, both Domiano and Neitz would have been selected to the head varsity positions, in a paid capacity,” he added. “Now we have the best of both worlds. The coaches have been approved as volunteers, but are acting as head coaches.”
“This is a very noble step by both coaches,” explained Rakauskas. “The positions are over $5 thousand dollars each, and if we end up not having a winter season, they will not get paid. They are more interested in the Lion’s basketball program development and the athletes than getting a paycheck.”
“If everything is okay on July 1, they will be formally appointed, if not, then we will figure out how to move on from there,” he added.