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.

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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.