KUNA, Idaho — The Kuna School District announced Thursday that it is furloughing 145 employees as school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic stretch on.
The furloughed employees will not be paid, but will retain their health insurance, PERSI benefits, and paid time off, the district says. The furlough will last through the end of summer break.
The employees affected are those who work in services offered when students and staff are physically in the building, according to Kuna School District Superintendent Wendy Johnson. Those include people working in food service, busing, reception, and safety, as well as paraprofessionals and classroom aides.
Teachers and administrators will not be affected by the furlough.
"All our employees are valued members of our team," Johnson wrote in a letter to employees. "It is our dearest hope that the spread of the COVID-19 in our community recedes quickly so we can reopen and serve students on our campuses and return to full staffing again."
According to the district, some "classified employees" will remain working doing maintenance like mowing or painting on school grounds, or working in the emergency feeding programs.
Johnson wrote that the district typically pays employees who are unable to work due to short-term closures - like snow days - but the length of the coronavirus school closures coupled with looming education budget cuts have made that not feasible.
"As you may know, the state will cut funding to schools this year by 1% and we expect reductions in transportation, nutrition, and Medicaid funding. Our current estimate of this impact on our current year funding is about $875,000," Johnson wrote.
"We've been told to expect a holdback for the coming year, but have no details other than it could be 5% or more," the letter continued. "Savings from furloughs now -about $520,000 - would help offset these cuts."
Furloughed employees are eligible for unemployment, and may be called back to work earlier if they are needed.