Nampa budget: back in the black

After two years, a $5.3 million shortfall, three voter-approved supplemental levies and three changes in the superintendent’s office, the Nampa School District is finally back in the black.

The state’s third-largest school district ended the 2013-14 school year with about $1.7 million in hand, including about $1.2 million of unspent savings. This will allow Nampa to put $720,000 in one-time money into several areas, such as substitute teachers and upgrades to computer labs and school security systems.

School Board members heard the news Tuesday night, when they received the district’s annual audit.

David Peterson interview
David Peterson, Nampa’s fourth superintendent since 2012, inherits a district that has clawed its way out of a $5.3 million deficit.

“There’s more work to do, but we should celebrate the significant progress we’ve made thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of many and the strong support of our community,” School Board Chairman Bob Otten said.

One piece of unfinished business is building up the district’s reserves, depleted during the budget crisis. The district hopes to set aside $5 million to $7 million in rainy-day funds over the next several years.

Nampa’s turnaround comes after a time of almost constant turbulence:

Budget mistakes. The district made several big accounting errors over several years. Nampa double-counted some state and federal funds and overestimated some revenue sources. In one instance, some $1.2 million in building bond revenues were siphoned into the district’s general fund, forcing the district to find the difference and put money back into bond repayments.

Tough cuts. The shortfall forced the district to close one aging elementary school, outsource janitorial services to a private company and leave 50 teaching jobs dark. In 2013-14, after lengthy and contentious negotiations, Nampa imposed 14 furlough days; those 14 days were added back to the school calendar for 2014-15.

A string of levies. Since 2012, voters approved three supplemental levies totaling nearly $14.3 million. The latest, a two-year, $6.78 million levy, passed in March.

Tumult at the top. On July 1, David Peterson became Nampa’s fourth superintendent since 2012.

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