In the Nampa district, the other shoe drops

Seven days ago, Nampa voters approved a $4.3 million supplemental levy designed to erase the school district’s chronic red ink.

Since then, Nampa patrons have learned two tough lessons:

  1. The $4.3 million isn’t sufficient to cover the district’s deficit, now projected at $5.1 million.
  2. They learned that Sunny Ridge Elementary School will close next fall, as a cost-cutting move.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, the reactions were predictable. From KBOI TV’s coverage: “Some parents at the board meeting expressed anger over how the district handled the announcement of the proposed closure. One parent said the board should be ashamed that they waited until after the levy vote passed by voters last Tuesday to reveal the closure plan.”

School officials say they have been talking publicly about school closures since December. But in an interview with Idaho Education News before the March 12 levy election, interim superintendent Thomas Michaelson would not go into specifics about possible cuts, and said nothing about school closures.

And on Sunday — two days after the district sent letters home to Sunny Ridge parents, informing them of the closure — Board Chairman Scott Kido sent out his own letter to families and staff, talking in general terms about the district’s dilemma.

“All these cuts are painful. They are emotional. They are heartbreaking. But, they are necessary in order to ensure the future health and success of our school district,” wrote Kido. “I know this letter will not make anyone feel better about the cuts. It is impossible to sugar coat what we need to do.”

The letter did not mention Sunny Ridge — nor the district’s assertion that closing the 44-year-old school would save $500,000.

(More reading: For more coverage from Monday night’s hearing, here’s a link to the Idaho Press-Tribune.)

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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