Caldwell presents its case for reductions after failed levy

The Caldwell School District Board of Trustees held a special meeting Monday night to discuss next year’s budget and the reductions that will take place after voters rejected a $4.1 million supplemental levy on May 21.

“It has forced the district to scramble,” said Cheryl Sanderson, the district’s chief financial officer. Sanderson added that in addition to the failed levy the district is also facing approximately $1.5 million in cuts from state funding.

“It’s been difficult conversations, and I’m sure everybody in the community has been affected at some level,” Sanderson said. “But we need to figure out what we can do that will make the least impact on our students and still provide services. … We do have a lot of work to do between now and when school starts in August.”

Much of Monday’s meeting was spent addressing the closure of Lincoln Elementary School and the reconfiguration of middle schools. Fifth- and sixth-grade students will attend Jefferson Middle School and seventh- and eighth-grade students will attend Syringa Middle School.

“There are 39 people that work at Lincoln,” Sanderson said. “We were actually able to absorb those people into other positions. … I think those peoples’ jobs are safe. They’ll be in a different role, in a different position. Many of them will leave with their students.”

The decision to – at least temporarily – close Lincoln was also addressed. The age of the building was a factor (it was built in 1941) as was its central location, which will help with the district’s transportation plan.

Chair Marisela Pesina became emotional as she discussed the thought process the board went through as it made several difficult decisions.

“Foremost on our minds was that we wanted to keep the integrity of the educational needs of our kids,” Pesina said. “That was our biggest goal: How do we not hurt the kids?

“But I’ve talked to a lot of teachers, a lot of parents (about) the grief, the confusion. … It’s been eye-opening, and I’ve told everyone their feelings are valid, because it’s hard. It’s really, really hard. … We just want to make this as painless as we can.”

Karen Cameron, the principal at Jefferson Middle School, addressed those in attendance. And while she acknowledged the difficult decisions being made she said she was impressed by the strength of the community.

“All in all, we’re trying to take this as a chance to look at the opportunity of what’s ahead of us,” Cameron said. “Let’s create something new and different and let’s be really excited in August, because we have a bunch of new kids that will be walking through our doors who are looking forward to this new challenge in their lives.”

Cameron said she was certain that would be the case.

“The resiliency of Caldwell is inspiring,” she said before a round of applause.

The Board will vote on the budget at next Monday’s regular meeting. Public input will be accepted.


Chris Langrill

Chris Langrill

Chris is a former Idaho Statesman reporter and editor who is freelancing for EdNews this summer.

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