NAMPA, Idaho -- When officials from the Nampa School District reportedly found a $2.8 million budget shortfall in August, they froze funding for substitute teachers, among other programs. The district also ceased new hiring, and cut operational budgets to help restore the shortfall.
The district had budgeted $660,000 for substitutes in the 2012 - 2013 school year. However, after finding holes in the budget, officials stopped much of the substitute teacher funding, leaving only about $260,000 -- much of that made possible through the district's 2012 supplemental levy.
"We started off without funds for subs," said Nampa School District spokesperson Allison Westfall, adding "We were able to restore $260,000 into the sub budget."
Westfall says the district now has another solution for the budget problem -- substitutes for substitutes.
Officials say they don't know how much of the 2012 sub budget they'll need to spend on substitute teachers. However, Westfall said it was never part of the district's plan to seek volunteer substitutes. Westfall explained that a number of community volunteers offered to substitute at a district meeting in August, and that's how the idea started.
"It was a response to community members who said, 'Hey I'd be willing to be a volunteer sub.'' Westfall said. "So we don't' know how many will come forward." Westfall added that restoring full funding to substitute teachers is one of the district's top financial priorities now.
District officials have confirmed that hiring volunteer substitutes is legal, and falls within district guidelines.
Parents like Jimmy Sisson question the idea of having volunteers teach their kids. Sisson has two children in the Nampa School District.
"I don't think that just anybody should be able to volunteer," Sisson said. "I think someone should at least have an education if they're going to be educating someone."
Former educator RaNae Forsberg said she supports the idea. Forsberg's grandkids go to school in Nampa.
"I personally would volunteer if it meant my grandkids didn't get taught," Forsberg said.
The district says volunteer substitutes would have to follow the same requirements as paid subs, including:
- Pass a drug test
- Go through a criminal background check
- Go through a reference check
- Have at least a high school diploma
Here's a breakdown of Nampa's 2012 substitute teacher funding:
- The Nampa School District has $260,000 to spend on substitute teachers
- Subs costs them $75 per day
- That means they can pay for subs for about 3,466 days
- There are 850 teachers in the district.
- If every teacher is gone only four days, they'll stay on budget, and that includes time calculated for maternity leave