Borough Council Considers Sharing Background Check Cost for Coaches

By Michael Klazema on 7/31/2012

In order to ensure that all coaches for recreational sports teams have background checks, the borough council members of Glen Rock, New Jersey, are considering sharing the cost with the recreation commission of the borough. The council’s request for all coaches to have background screenings was rejected by the recreation commission, unless volunteer coaches wouldn’t have to pay the estimated $42 fee. Chair of Parks and Recreation, Joan Orseck, said that when she presented the idea of having all coaches screened to the commission members, they weren’t willing to shoulder the cost. According to Orseck, the group said it was “difficult enough getting people to volunteer as it is,” and they would need to ask volunteers to pay for “the required Rutgers (safety) course” in addition to their background checks. Orseck described the general consensus among the commission as a “pretty resounding no.” Mayor John van Keuren has proposed splitting the costs 50-50 between the borough and sports teams.

According to Mark Barone, borough Recreation Director, a Rutgers University Safety Certification course must be successfully completed by volunteer coaches, which costs $30. He said that the costs of the background checks “vary depending on the type of test or scan involved…and the vendor,” but estimates it would be about $42 per person. Although the number of volunteer coaches needing to be screened depends on the number of teams registering each year, Barone said that number could be as many as several hundred. He said the commission has been checking with other communities to see “what their policies and procedures are” concerning background checks for coaches.

Mayor van Keuren contends that the issue is important and shouldn’t be dropped because the cost is being questioned. He believes the city council and the recreation commission should be able to work out a compromise if it just comes down to cost. Other council members, including Michael O’Hagan agree. O’Hagan said it could potentially be a liability issue for the borough, and that it is important to find the money to pay for the checks. Van Keuren said that borough residents would most likely support the use of funds for background checks, and that it would make sure that kids who played sports would be as safe and “secure as possible.”

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