Community Blog: The EDge

Another teacher — the local union head — leaves Nampa district

(UPDATED, 2:57 p.m., with news that Simpson will take a teaching  job in Boise.)

Throughout the prolonged and sometimes testy labor negotiations in Nampa, teacher turnover has been a recurring theme.

And now Mandy Simpson — president of the Nampa Education Association, the local teachers’ union — is leaving the Nampa School District. And money was a determining factor.

“Unfortunately, as many have, I had to make a decision that will benefit my family and allow me to continue being a full-time teacher and not have to take a second job,” Simpson said in an email Wednesday night to union members, forwarded to Idaho Education News. “I hope I have been able to serve you well over the last year and thank you again for the opportunity. With sadness, I say goodbye and wish you all the best.”

Simpson says she is leaving for Boise’s Capital High School, after working in Nampa schools for nine years.

It is not uncommon for teachers to move from other Treasure Valley districts to Boise, where salaries are higher. But this is a higher-profile move, due to Simpson’s public role with the Nampa union. Indeed, on Thursday morning, Simpson was involved in labor negotiations with Nampa district officials.

While these negotiations continue, one month into the budget year, the salary end of the equation was set in late June. The district has already imposed 14 unpaid furlough days for the school year beginning Aug. 20. This is the centerpiece of the district’s plan to eliminate a projected $5 million shortfall stemming from years of accounting errors.

While the furlough plan affects only veteran teachers — not teachers making the district minimum salary of $31,750 — the district is still bracing for heavy teacher turnover.

District officials have pegged the turnover rate at 18 percent. Simpson has predicted an even higher rate, of 20 percent. The actual figures aren’t yet available, district spokeswoman Allison Westfall said this week.

And as for Thursday’s negotiations: No agreement, as the two sides continued discussing non-monetary issues. The next session is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 9, Westfall said.

Simpson: ‘I can’t afford to stay’

Here’s the full text of Simpson’s email:

“It is with a heavy heart that I have to tell you that I have decided to take a job at Capital High School. The decision to even consider a job elsewhere for me was only made because financially I can’t afford to stay in the Nampa School District. Teaching for me, has never and will never be about the money, but I do have to pay my own bills and meet my medical needs. So my decision to leave necessitated from the inability for me to be able to care for my most basic needs. I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to serve as your Nampa EA president. I have learned more in the last 12 months and I have grown by being here and enduring through these past 12 months with you all. I live in this community and take pride in that fact. I also firmly believe that as a citizen of Nampa it is my responsibility to help provide public education to our kids. I have loved working in this district and with the children of Nampa. Unfortunately, as many have, I had to make a decision that will benefit my family and allow me to continue being a full-time teacher and not have to take a second job. I sincerely thank you for the opportunity to learn and grow from each and every one of you. I know you have enriched my life in the nine years I have worked in this district. I hope I have been able to serve you well over the last year and thank you again for the opportunity. With sadness, I say goodbye and wish you all the best.” 

 

Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger at Idaho Education News (idahoednews.org). Kevin is a former Statesman editorial page editor, with 27 year's experience in Idaho journalism.

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