Trustees of the Nampa School Board are asking a 34-year public education veteran to step in where most fear to tread: a school district up to its nose in red ink.
Trustees named Thomas Michaelson as Nampa's interim school superintendent, replacing Gary Larsen, who resigned in September, leaving behind a $2.8 million budget screw-up caused by bad bookkeeping and poor planning.
In September, trustees were told that the district had projected a nearly $2 million surplus during fiscal year 2011, when in fact, it operated on a $1 million deficit. School officials said the mistake "was camouflaged by $3 million in federal stimulus money that hadn't been budgeted for." District budget officials told the committee that stimulus money was "double budgeted." Additionally, state support was overbudgeted by nearly $1 million.
This morning's Idaho Press-Tribune reports that Michaelson served as superintendent and/or chief executive officer of several California school districts from 1981 to 2010, including some that were "in a situation of financial crisis."
Michaelson had retired and moved to Nampa in 2010, but now he is signing an interim contract that will run through June 2013.
Upon the announcement Thursday, Michaelson immediately went behind closed doors with the board of trustees to meet in executive session.