Nampa reaches tentative agreement

The Nampa School District’s tentative labor agreement reflects the district’s reversing fortunes.

A year after the cash-strapped district imposed 14 unpaid furlough days to balance the budget, Nampa will reinstate all 14 days to the 2014-15 calendar. For teachers, this will restore lost wages; for parents and students, this equates to a beefed-up school calendar come fall.

Teachers will also get one personal day, and some teachers will get raises, based on experience, as the district is funding one “step” on the salary schedule.

But there is some give-and-take in the agreement. Employees will pick up more of their health insurance costs — and the district is getting rid of a well-liked plan that covered some employees at no out-of-pocket cost.

Here’s how the retooled health care plan breaks down:

  • Nampa is dumping a plan that allowed some employees to sign up for insurance at no charge. There were strings attached; employees had to sign up for a high-deductible health care plan, and spouse and children were not eligible. Still, the no-cost plan was the most popular option the district offered, chosen by 540 of the 1,280 employees on the district insurance plan. Next year, all employees will pay at least $11.49 a month in premiums.
  • Premiums will increase for all coverage plans. All told, employee health insurance costs are projected to go up to nearly $1.5 million, a 23.2 percent increase. The district’s share of costs will approach $8.4 million, a 1.8 percent increase.
  • Deductibles will also increase, from $750 and $1,000 in 2013-14 to $1,000 and $2,000 in 2014-15.

While employees and the district absorb increased health care costs, the district will put some money back into staff time and salaries.

Reversing the furloughs — restoring 14 days for teaching and administrative staff, and five days for classified staff — will run about $2 million, district spokeswoman Allison Westfall said. Funding the step on the salary schedule costs about $400,000 she said.

Pete Koehler
Pete Koehler

Both sides praised the process.

“We appreciate the collaborative approach and the focus on keeping the interests of all our employees in mind,” interim Superintendent Pete Koehler said.

“While we would have like to see additional step movement funded, we appreciate that the district listened to our concerns and ideas,” said Pat Coffey, the Nampa Education Association’s lead negotiator.

The tone was not as upbeat during last year’s heated negotiations. Administrators pushed for the 14 unpaid furlough days to cut into a projected $3 million shortfall. The district imposed the furloughs over the objection of union negotiators.

With the tentative agreement, Nampa joins several other large districts that have settled contracts for 2014-15. Meridian, Boise, Vallivue, Caldwell and Idaho Falls are among the districts that have already come to terms.

Contracts expire statewide on June 30. The Nampa district will send out 2014-15 contracts on July 1, based on the tentative agreement. The NEA and the Nampa School Board are expected to vote on the deal in early July.

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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