Community Blog: The EDge

Nampa School Board gets a short-lived round of applause

It’s been a rough few months for the Nampa School District, so school board members need to take their standing ovations when they can get them.

The board received just such a rousing round of applause Tuesday night, after voting unanimously to keep the district’s nutritional staff on the district’s payroll.

The district received three bids to outsource nutritional services to private firms.

Kurt Wallin, Nampa cafeteria staffer
Kurt Wallin, a Nampa cafeteria staffer, addresses the School Board Tuesday night.

The board rejected all three bids, at interim Superintendent Thomas Michaelson’s urging, because the outsourcing would not save money for a district facing a $5.1 million general fund deficit. Nutritional staffers are federally funded — unlike the district’s custodial staff. Those 83 jobs are being shifted to a private company, at savings of about $300,000.

Keeping the nutritional staff in house was not a big surprise; Michaelson had publicly recommended this on Friday. But the audience at Tuesday night’s school board meeting was made up largely of nutritional staffers, clad in lime green t-shirts, who showed up to show their opposition to outsourcing.

The nutritional services contract was the first item on Tuesday night’s agenda. So the crowd had thinned out considerably a couple minutes later — and when Michaelson dropped a bombshell. The district had managed to misspend $1.2 million in building bond money on day-to-day operations, compounding the district’s red ink.

“It’s somewhat disappointing to share some bad news,” said Michaelson sheepishly.

And with that, Tuesday’s crowd-pleasing decision quickly became old news.

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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