Nampa

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Frankie Barnhill / For Boise State Public Radio

Four Idaho cities have made the latest rankings of a national group that advocates for the rights of lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender people. 

The Washington D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign released its third annual Municipal Equality Index Wednesday. Boise, Idaho Falls, Meridian and Nampa are among the 353 cities ranked. The organization assigns cities a score based on "LGBT inclusion in municipal law and policy." It examines 47 different criteria in six categories.

Canyon County Historical Society

In 1885, southwestern Idaho's Nampa was just a water tower and a few shacks, but that quickly changed when the railroad came to town. A new book by historian Larry Cain examines the railroad's impact on Nampa, and how the city has changed.

Cain says the trains, and their cargo, are a big reason why Nampa thrived in the early part of the last century.

Desks, Classroom
DerekBruff / Flickr Creative Commons

A school district in southwestern Idaho that is reeling from budget problems has lost 20 percent of its teachers in the last few months.

Nampa School District Superintendent Pete Koehler said during a board meeting Tuesday that 151 teachers have left since the end of the school year — far more than the usual 5 percent annual turnover rate.

The district has suffered a series of financial blows starting last year, when officials discovered almost $3 million in one-time budget money had been counted twice.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The Nampa School Board voted Tuesday night to leave 27 teaching jobs unfilled next fall (15 secondary and 12 elementary.) The jobs are opening due to retirements and resignations. It’s the latest step in a year-long effort to overcome a $5.1 million budget deficit blamed on accounting errors. The cuts will result in larger class sizes. In fourth grade for example, average class sizes will increase from 26 students to 32 students.

Courtesy of the Idaho Statesman

Idaho’s Education Improvement Task Force has started a statewide tour seeking public comment. The group was put together by the State Board of Education. It's been meeting since January to talk about ways to improve Idaho’s education system. It kicked off a seven city public meeting tour Wednesday night in Nampa. About 60 people attended and 19 spoke. Fewer than a third of the members of the 31 person task force attended the forum. 

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A Nampa man has taken his skills with computers and turned a children’s bedtime story into a new interactive e-book.  The work is a labor of love, literally.  The book is a legacy for his daughter who was the inspiration for the main character.

Randy Jamison reads the interactive e-book “Jubitron: The Girl Robot” with his nine-year-old daughter Jubilee.  “Isn’t this your favorite page?” asks Jamison.  “Yeah, it’s another one of my favorites,” says Jubilee.

money
401K / Flickr Creative Commons

The Nampa School District says its budget shortfall is larger than first thought. The estimate is now $4.5 million. In August, the state’s third largest district announced that overspending last year had created a shortfall of $2.8 million. District spokeswoman Allison Westfall says an internal audit wrapping up now revises that amount down to $2.4 million. But Westfall says the audit then turned to this year’s budget.

Lester Public Library / Flickr

The Nampa School District says the book “Like Water for Chocolate” is inappropriate for high school sophomores. It’s banning the book from the curriculum.

The 1989 book by Mexican author Laura Esquivel includes vivid descriptions of sexual arousal. Nampa School District spokeswoman Allison Westfall says over the weekend, administrators reviewed the passages after receiving complaints.

www1.nsd131.org

Nampa’s school superintendent Gary Larsen said  Monday that he's resigning. A spokesperson for The Nampa School District says Larsen hopes the move will restore public trust in how the district manages its finances.

Last month Larsen announced that an accounting error had resulted in a  $2.8  million shortfall going into the new school year.

Larsen credited the error to the district financial office being understaffed. He took responsibility for that situation. Tuesday night Nampa’s school board will hold a special meeting on whether to accept Larsen’s resignation.

Local Organic Farmer Reacts To New Study

Sep 4, 2012
lakewentworth / Flickr

A new study out of Stanford University says that organic food may not be any healthier than conventionally produced food. The researchers found no difference in organic and conventional foods when it comes to allergies or food poisoning, and sited only small variations in nutrient levels.

The Nampa School District passed its levy this week. That means $1.6 million will be used for things like curriculum and building maintenance.

But the state’s third largest district has cut more than $5 million in other areas just in the last few months. That’s a result of two shortfalls. One of the line items taking a big hit in Nampa is the substitute teaching budget.

Last year Nampa spent $771,600 for substitute teachers. This year the district plans to cut $600,000 by using subs only for long term assignments such as maternity leave.

teamrealtyofidaho.com

Canyon County voters in Wilder, Notus, Homedale and Nampa appear to have approved school levies yesterday by wide margins. Nearly two-thirds of Nampa voted to pass a $1.6 million, two-year levy. Those same voters rejected a levy earlier this year for about twice that amount.

Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio

Voters in several school districts in southwest Idaho go to the polls Tuesday. The Kuna School district will ask voters to approve nearly $3.2 million a year for the next two years. That money would be used to hire more teachers, reduce fees, plus maintenance and operations expenses. It could also mean the difference between offering drivers education or not.

teamrealtyofidaho.com

The Nampa School District is going into the school year with a $2.8 million shortfall. The reason: an accounting error that had gone undiscovered since last school year. That information comes to light as the district prepares for a $1.6 million levy vote August 28th. The question on many people’s minds is, how will the shortfall announcement influence voters?

The Nampa School District shocked its board and city residents Tuesday when it announced a budget shortfall of $2.8 million.  Because of accounting errors, Nampa superintendent Gary Larson told his audience, the district spent money it didn’t have.

The shortfall is in last year's budget, and it's coming to light at an unfortunate time: just as the district finishes making cuts to fill a budget gap for the year ahead.

Larson says the district's finance team caught the problem a little more than a week ago and alerted the deputy superintendent. 

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

The head of Idaho’s Department of Juvenile Corrections this week issued a statement saying young people who serve time at the state’s detention facility in Nampa are safe.  Sharon Harrigfeld  felt compelled to say that after 13 employees named her in a lawsuit that details alleged problems at the center.  Allegations range from unsafe working conditions, to sex between juveniles, and even impr

baseball.isport.com

The Nampa School District hopes the second time will be the charm. In August the district will ask voters for more money even though a previous attempt failed earlier this year.

This time Nampa schools are asking voters for $1.6 million. Compare that to the $3.58 million request Nampa voters rejected in March. The district thinks that smaller number will be easier to swallow.

facebook.com/studentscomefirst

Many school districts in Idaho are negotiating teacher contracts. And because of the Students Come First education laws that passed last year, those negotiations now have to be done in full view of the public.

Before Students Come First all the public usually saw of school district contracts was the finished agreement. Now you can watch every offer and counter-offer, and every back and forth of the negotiation. This is the second year that’s been true. Students Come First went into effect in April of 2011. Many districts begin negotiations in April.

baseball.isport.com

The Nampa school district is short about two and a half million dollars for next year. The district and the local teachers’ union are trying to find a way to balance that budget in their annual contract negotiations. The district’s first offer made up the shortfall largely through teacher furloughs, an idea that didn’t go over well with the Nampa Education Association. After some back and forth, the latest proposal on the table calls for the district to make deep budget cuts instead. The largest part of that comes from staff reduction, mostly through attrition.