This will be in Monday’s paper, but I figured I’d post it here as well.
By JOE MIEGOC
Record Sports Writer
While there were other factors, the financial troubles plaguing the Pocono Mountain School District forced Patrick Heaton’s hand.
Heaton, who just finished his fifth season as Pocono Mountain East’s boys basketball coach, informed PM East principal Todd Burns and athletic director Robert Bailey on Friday that he was resigning as the school’s basketball coach.
Heaton, who came to Pocono East from Mountain View in 2007, guided the Cardinals to the District 11 Class AAAA championship game and PIAA playoffs in 2009, and a Mountain Valley Conference title in 2010. Heaton finished his five-year stay with the Cardinals with a record of 87-42 and led them to the district playoffs every year and to the MVC playoffs every year since they started in the 2008-09 season.
Basketball didn’t have much to do with Heaton’s decision though.
When the PMSD released the latest version of its budget last week it included a proposal to cut nearly 300 employees for the 2012-13 school year. The school board approved the cuts, contingent on the closings of three district school buildings in May.
Couple the job uncertainly with the illness of his wife Tara, who has been hospitalized several times while battling a digestive disorder caused by a defect in her pancreas, and Heaton didn’t have much choice.
“It’s partly the impending job cuts, and as it looks like right now my position will probably be cut based on lack of seniority, and also the welfare of my family,” said Heaton, who teaches mathematics at East. “We won’t know the final cuts until later in the year, but my wife has been ill and I can’t go without insurance so I need to make sure I secure employment for next year.
“It’s unfair to the kids (in the basketball program) to think that I have the commitment to do both things at the same time.”
While frustrated with the situation, Heaton said he understood what the school district was facing.
“It’s frustrating, but I understand the economics of the situation,” said Heaton, who has two sons in the PMSD. “You have less money than you need to spend. I don’t know if anybody has any choice in the matter at this point.”
Heaton said he wasn’t sure what his future held, but his resume will be bolstered by his time at East.
The Cardinals had three 20-win seasons during Heaton’s tenure and played in the MVC title game three times, beating Pocono Mountain West in 2010. PM East also advanced to the district title game in 2009 for just the third time in school history.
“I’m proud of all the efforts of the kids,” Heaton said. “The parents, the administration, Bob Bailey, my AD, everyone has been so supportive.”
That support carried over to off the court where Heaton has focused much of his time caring for his wife and family.
“I got a lot of support from the community and the administration and everyone really,” Heaton said. “I’m very thankful for that.”