Nampa budget hearing sets stage for negotiations

The Nampa School District is anticipating a $600,000 revenue boost from the sale of district land near Nampa High School.

The sale will further reduce a projected shortfall for 2013-14 — but still leaves the district nearly $3 million shy of a balanced budget. And that, in a nutshell, is the district’s budget dilemma, as administrators and the Nampa Education Association continue to negotiate a contract for the new budget year, which opens July 1.

On Wednesday evening, the two sides are scheduled to head back to the bargaining table — where they have disagreed sharply over the district’s fiscal health, and the need to cut the 2013-14 budget by reducing personnel costs.

During a public hearing on the budget Tuesday night, district finance officer Michelle Yankovich outlined the district’s case. She maintained that the district needs to impose unpaid furloughs and cut short- and long-term disability and life insurance benefits, steps that would eliminate almost all of the $3 million shortfall.

The NEA has balked at the district’s furlough proposal, which would eliminate 14 contract days, cut teacher training days and and several classroom days, and erase about $2.6 million of shortfall. During a negotiating session last week, union leaders questioned whether the district even faces a shortfall, and questioned the need for furloughs at all.

In contrast to the tense contract negotiations, Tuesday’s budget hearing was quick and low-key.

No one testified during the public hearing, and the school board took no action either. The board will meet on June 25 to take final action on the budget.

Over the past several months, Nampa has imposed a list of budget cuts designed to whittle away at a $5.1 million deficit. The district cut 27 teaching positions in May, and has since said that it expects to leave another 10 classified positions unfilled. The district also cut 4 ½ administrative jobs; outsourced custodial staffing to reduce benefits costs; and closed Sunny Ridge Elementary School.

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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