NAMPA – The Nampa School District made several decisions to save the district money during Monday night’s school board meeting.
One of those decisions was to close Sunny Ridge Elementary School. The vote was 4-1.
But there is more that came out of Monday night's meeting, including the district's financial problems continuing to get worse.
Public comment at the meeting was pointed and emotional as many felt the board could have been more transparent about the decision to close schools.
"This just doesn't look good. You can't possibly be there and think this is going to play well out here. It looks, I don't for a minute, think that anyone connived to do this, but unfortunately it comes across that way," said one Nampa parent.
While the vast majority of people who testified were against the closure - not everyone was.
"We must stop spending money we do not have," said a parent who supports the closure.
And that's part of the problem.
The district is on course to start the next school year $200,000 in the hole, and end the year $3.1 million in the red. While deciding to close Sunny Ridge Elementary will plug a $500,000 hole in the district's budget, other holes continue to emerge.
"Early in October, when the deficit was realized they did a projection of what our deficit would look like by the end of the year, and it was 4.3 million," said Nampa School District Spokesperson Allison Westfall.
The district announced during the special board meeting Monday night that it is $5.1 million in debt, not $4.3 million as previously stated.
That additional $800,000 of red ink is a result of the district not budgeting certain things, and under budgeting others. The district says the deficit happened in part because of the last administration's budget.
"We need to, one, get rid of the deficit, borrow money to pay our bills, but then we have to look at next year's budget. So how do we make sure we live within our means, that spending and revenue match? So if we look at our current spending pattern, we're overspending between 2.9 and 3.1 million, so that's what we're looking at having to cut next year," said Westfall.
This whole financial crisis has cost the district about $100,000 in legal fees and auditing costs. But in the end, it is the closure of Sunny Ridge Elementary that is the toughest for parents and students.
"I'm sad, and I wish they would have taken a little more time for our benefits to make us feel like they were even entertaining the thought, but reality is, that decision was made even before we got here. And that's frustrating. Again, I feel deceived," said a parent.
"I've been here since kindergarten and I'm in fourth grade. I wanted to stay here for all my five years so it's pretty sad," said fourth grader Adriana Segovia.
The changes voted on Monday night will take place for the next school year. The district does not expect any teachers at Sunny Ridge Elementary will lose their jobs. They'll have a chance to take positions at other schools created through attrition.
The question now is - what's next?
The district has several plans for this spring including exactly where Sunny Ridge Elementary students and staff will go.
There are also plans to consider another loan, as well as continuing to identify more areas where they can reduce spending.