Community Blog: The EDge

Nampa teacher turnover higher than forecast

Teacher turnover in Nampa could be even higher than originally forecast, by district and union leaders alike.

As the Nampa School District imposes 14 furlough days in 2013-14 — as part of an effort to erase a lingering shortfall of about $5 million — turnover is running at about 23 percent, spokeswoman Allison Westfall said Monday.

Classes started Aug. 20 in Nampa, Idaho’s third largest district. Nampa has a professional staff of about 850 employees, although that figure includes teachers, administrators and other professionals.

The upheaval in the teaching ranks comes as no surprise; district administrators and the Nampa Education Association both were forecasting high turnover. In July, interim Superintendent Pete Koehler pegged the rate at 18 percent; NEA President Mandy Simpson estimated the rate at 20 percent and growing.

But by summer’s end, Simpson too had left the district — for a job at Boise’s Capital High School.

A series of accounting errors — rolled over from one budget year to the next — have left the Nampa district struggling to slow a tide of red ink. The district sought, and voters approved, two property tax levies. The district closed aging Sunny Ridge Elementary School. The district outsourced custodial jobs in order to save benefits costs.

But even though furloughs were commonplace in Idaho schools during the recession — the Meridian and Twin Falls districts imposed 14 furlough days in a cost-cutting move — Nampa has not imposed furloughs until this year. The district asked teachers to take voluntary furlough days in 2012-13, but earlier this month, District Judge Molly Huskey said the plan was illegal.

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

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