Nampa’s New School Board Too Late To Help With Financial Crisis

May 22, 2013

Outgoing board members Scott Kido (left) and Dale Wheeler debating eliminating positions in elementary music, PE and counseling. Wheeler opposed the idea. Kido said he would have voted yes but the issue did not come to a vote.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Elections this week have resulted in a major shakeup in Nampa’s school board. Voters elected two new members to the five person group largely prompted by the district’s ongoing financial crisis. The district blames accounting errors for a deficit of more than five million dollars. After a year of difficult cuts Nampa still has a long way to go to reach a balanced budget.

New school board member Mike Fuller has a handle on why it’s so difficult for the district to climb out of its financial hole.

“85 percent of our $64 million budget is salaries and benefits,” Fuller says. “And we’ve been cutting in other areas, and you can’t squeeze the rest of it enough. Simple fact is we have to cut salaries and benefits.”

Earlier this month the board cut 27 teaching positions through attrition. But the group did not take a recommendation to eliminate jobs for elementary councilors and music and physical education teachers. Fuller thinks it’s necessary to cut more teaching jobs.

“It’s not like it’s something I wanted to run on or anything,” he says. “It’s just that’s the reality the school district’s in right now.”

But Fuller says there’s not much he can do about it, same for Brian McGourty Nampa’s other board member elect.

“We won’t have the ability to impact the 2013/14 budget after our installation,” McGourty says.

The two will be sworn in July 9. That same day they’ll vote to approve next year’s budget. That’s being written now. The legal deadline to submit that to the state comes just six days later on July 15.

“Unfortunately the current board has put themselves a little bit behind the eight ball by failing to take action with regards to the proposed reductions in staff and then not having concrete alternative solutions,” he says.

Now the work of balancing the budget shifts largely to the district’s teachers. Negotiations are underway for next year’s master labor agreement. The teacher’s union opposed layoffs in music, PE and counseling but now all teachers may have to collectively take a bigger hit.

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio