Despite accounting errors, Nampa school levy deserves support

Here is a draft of our Friday editorial:

The Nampa School District’s accounting needs work. The same can be said for the district’s sense of timing.

Earlier this month, the district found a $2.8 million shortfall, representing 4.2 percent of this year’s budget. The news broke at perhaps the worst possible time: days before the new school year, and two weeks before voters decide the fate of a two-year, $3.2 million supplemental property tax levy.

Tuesday’s election will decide the fate of the levy. For district administrators, the election will represent a vote of confidence — or no confidence. Undoubtedly, some voters will want to punish the district for flunking a math test, to the sizeable sum of $2.8 million.

We’d urge voters to think things through. And to vote yes.

Passing this levy will keep a bad budget situation from getting worse. Rejecting this levy will leave the district with less money for supplies and maintenance — to the detriment, ultimately, of students and their learning experience.

Yes, the district’s accounting errors were significant, and there is no sugar-coating their magnitude. Particularly troubling is the fact that the shortfall resulted from several different errors: some revenue was counted twice; revenue from another source was overestimated, again by a factor of two; salary revenue was miscalculated. The district says the problems were the result of a shorthanded staff and human error. Those are explanations, but they aren’t excuses. Michelle Yankovich, the district’s newly hired finance officer, has her work cut out for her.

But the errors have been found and corrective measures made. No layoffs are planned, but 39 positions will go unfilled, some teachers will be reassigned, and budgets for transportation, supplies and substitute teachers will be cut.

Which dovetails to Tuesday’s levy, which needs a simple majority to pass. Some money would go for supplies — a budget facing cuts because of the newly discovered shortfall. The rest would go into textbooks and technology, and building repairs and maintenance, preventing further cuts in these areas.

To its credit, the district scaled back its plans since March, when voters rejected a two-year, $7.16 million levy. Tuesday’s proposal would renew the existing tax levy, and would not increase taxes. This strikes a fair balance, reinvesting in school infrastructure without burdening taxpayers.

Nothing that happens Tuesday will undo past errors, or erase Nampa’s school shortfall. Voters can only look toward the future. In that light, the levy deserves a strong, forward-thinking show of support.

Disclosure: The mother of Jessica Flynn, a community representative on the Statesman editorial board, is a principal at a Nampa elementary school.

how about the other school levies coming up next week?

they could use a shout-out too. thanks!

how about the Dept of Defense budget coming up next month?

that could use a shout-out too. Thanks!

A little fuzzy on when you did your service...

Are you too old to join now?

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

Kevin - something bothers me about the facts

The shortfall was announced a few weeks ago as having just being discovered. At the same time, the story said that the prior budget person had resigned in January, partially because of this error.

Did that person keep it a secret all this time, or was the school district trying to keep the word from getting out? Do you have any insight on this?

Also, was the person who resigned a degreed accountant, or a teacher promoted into the budget arena? My sister (a CPA) was a business manager at a school district in Washington. Her predecessor was paid more because he had been a teacher, but had no accounting education or experience. Did the same thing happen here?

I find it a bit pompous for

I find it a bit pompous for someone who will not be footing the bill for the Nampa school districts' errors to also cavalierly endorse it. Unless and until the school district learns that they can't keep running to us taxpayers for more money when they run out due to their own incompetence, this will never end. Taxpayers demand accountability and to simply say "ok, here's some more money to waste" is to approve of their performance or lack thereof. To also simply say that the kids education will suffer is all to obvious an excuse. This levy failing can be a good thing in that it will force the district to become more efficient with our hard earned tax dollars. Who could be against that?

Actually

the Statesman is printed at the Idaho Free Press (or what ever name it goes by now, I knew it as the Tribune) facility in Nampa. The property taxes paid on the press is probably figured into what they have to pay.

I can assure you that

I can assure you that Richert and the other liberals at The Statesman do not live in Canyon county. Did I make my point clear enough for you now?