Bringing the Economy Home

Nampa Schools Dug A $2.8 Million Hole. Are State Budget Cuts To Blame?

Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

When Rockland voters went to the polls in May, 80 percent supported the school levy.

The Nampa School District has discovered a budget problem.

Last school year, due to an accounting error, it spent $2.8 million it didn’t have.  Boise State Public Radio’s Adam Cotterell has the full story.

The given reason for the error is worth special note at StateImpact.

Superintendent Gary Larson tells Cotterell the miscalculation came about because the district’s finance team is understaffed.  As state funding for districts fell in recent years, Larson says, he decided to leave some finance department positions unfilled.

“At the time it was a signal that we are in this together, the district office and the schools,” Larson says. “Well, as a result it impacted our finance department and I think we got too thin, and because we were thin I think we made these human errors.”

It’s unclear whether there’s a straight line between the Nampa district’s short-staffing and its budget errors.  However, this story falls into a general category of stories we’ve reported in recent months.

In the small town of Rockland, in southeastern Idaho, funding for the local school district has fallen by 20 percent in the last three years.  There, local voters have passed the highest levy rate in the state to keep their school afloat.

In Council, Idaho, local loggers and tradesmen have volunteered their time and labor to help reopen the shop program.  In that district, state funding has fallen by more than 25 percent in the last four years.

Both are examples of state cuts leading to local costs.

In Nampa, Cotterell reports, the school district is appealing to voters to approve a $1.6 million levy. However, that money is designated for curriculum improvements.  To make up the newly discovered $2.8 million shortfall, the district will cut back.  And Superintendent Larson says that will leave still more positions unfilled.


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