Nampa School District approves mandatory furlough days

NAMPA, Idaho (KBOI) - After two months of hearing from a select committee and members of the public. The Nampa School Board finally approved steps to fix their large budget shortfall which included requiring mandatory furlough days for classified employees.

The voted brought a sharp reaction from people sitting in the crowd. The furloughs do not include certified teachers, but is people like janitors and paraprofessionals. The board approved the days to be taken during Christmas break, but those it affects say it will be a huge hit to their budget.

"I'm going to have to seriously cut my budget," said Lynne Cordle who is a paraprofessional in the district. "Cut food, prescription medication I'm not going to be able to afford. I can barely make it right now and four days cut is huge."

It was also suggested to the board they also have furlough days for teachers, but that would require them to reopen negotiations. They would have to work out a deal with the Nampa Education Association. It was suggested to do furloughs on teacher work days when students would not be at school. Teachers voiced concerns saying the needed that time to prepare lesson plans.

Along with the furlough days the board approved other steps that would save money. Starting in the spring the district will start charging activity fees for extra curricular activities such as sports. The board will also look into ways students can pay the fee over the season or have a family rate for those with multiple kids in school.

Going forward the board will also consider selling some of the excess land it owns as a way to fill the budget gap. They did old off on making a decision for one property located downtown. Trustees want to do an inventory and see if the property would be worth hanging on to if it's worth more in the future.

The board also heard from an bond expert on how the district could restructure their bonds so they could get savings and use the extra money to fill the gap. In order to do this they would have to get voters to approve a supplemental levy that wouldn't raise their current tax rates. Idaho law requires all bond savings from a restructure must go back to property owners unless they approve the school to use it instead.

There are several rewards and risks to doing a restructure. In a best case scenario the district could save over $400,000 if a levy is passed and they receive a good credit rating. The problems is with the current budget situation for the district bonds on the open market might not get as much savings because of a poorer rating. An expert said if voters approve the levy the board could show rating agencies they will have the money in the future. This could improve their rating which means the savings would be greater.

Another risk is interest rates and while experts say they will likely stay at historic lows. If they were to go up it could take out much of the proposed savings. The savings from a restructuring wouldn't be seen until fiscal year 2014. The board could get a loan now based on the savings.