education funding

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To save the state money, new rules were passed to increase the capacity of classrooms to 25 students for all grades. Statute previously recommended that kindergarten through 3rd-grade classroom capacity be capped at 16, and 4th through 12th grade at 21. Those numbers help determine when the state needs to fund the construction of new schools to accommodate growth.

Tennessee Watson / Wyoming Public Radio

The University of Wyoming Faculty Senate, the administration and the Board of Trustees have reached an agreement on changes to regulations regarding how the university will respond to financial challenges in the future.

Tennessee Watson

When the University of Wyoming trustees met last week, the campus was abuzz with concern about proposed changes to the authority of the board. What the administration is calling a routine update to university regulations was seen by some as a power grab that would give trustees the ability to more easily eliminate academic programs and ax faculty.

Economic Policy Institute

In honor of Mother’s Day, and with Father’s Day right around the corner, children, young and old, will pause to thank their parents for the sacrifices they’ve made. Across the country, child care is one of the biggest expenses families face. It can cost more to put an infant in daycare than it costs to send an 18-year-old to college. Wyoming Public Radio’s Tennessee Watson spoke with Linda Barton from the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance about access to child care in the state.

Jack, his mom Sarah Chatfield and his teacher Tia Reed pose with the cookies he's brought for the teachers at his IEP meeting. A team works with Jack and his family to create an individualized learning plan to accommodate his low vision.
Tennessee Watson

In an effort to curb the rising costs of K-12 education, the state legislature voted to cap spending on special education during the 2018 Budget Session. Lawmakers also directed the Wyoming Department of Education to come up with efficiencies. While educators agree there’s room for improvements, they say Wyoming’s rural nature complicates things.

Screen shot from March 21-23 UW Board of Trustees materials altered by Tennessee Watson

The University of Wyoming’s Salary Policy Task Force presented findings to the Board of Trustees Thursday confirming that staff are paid below average when compared to peer institutions and relevant industries. The task force was appointed by President Laurie Nichols last August after staff raised concerns about salary distribution.

 

Wyoming Legislature Senator Eli Bebout
Bob Beck

The Wyoming Legislature still has work to do. Despite working for 20 days the House and Senate will reconvene later this week to hopefully reach a compromise on one bill that funds building projects and another that trims school funding. 

Wyoming State Legislature

As the budget session comes to a close, there’s still no conclusion on how to fund education. The House wants to use sales tax from online purchases and other new sources of revenue, while the Senate prefers to dip into reserve funding and reduce spending on education.

 

Wyoming Legislature

The Senate Education Committee stripped out innovative school funding amendments out of a bill after committee members declared the ideas move not germane to the original bill. They also amended the bill so that it resembled a measure that died in a house committee earlier this year.   

Speaker of the House Steve Harshman and House Education Chairman David Northrup were frustrated with the move. They disagreed that the funding proposals didn’t belong in the bill. Northrup says new revenue for education is needed.

Tennessee Watson

A senate bill proposing over $40 million in cuts to education over the next several years died in the House Education Committee Friday.

 

Committee members raised concerns about proposed increases in class sizes, as well as, a change to how the state adjusts funding when districts have declining enrollment. Currently, if districts lose students, their funding decreases based on a three-year rolling average. The proposed legislation wanted decreases to take effect within one year.

 

Wyoming State Legislature

It’s the halfway point of the Wyoming legislative session, and Wyoming Public Radio News Director Bob Beck joins Morning Edition Host Caroline Ballard to discuss what the big issues are for the state's lawmakers.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming House and Senate wrapped up budget work Friday. As predicted the Senate made several reductions to education spending. Senate Education Chairman Hank Coe says the cuts were outside of the classroom and were necessary when you look at the state’s fiscal situation. 

“If all the cuts take place that we are talking about here with what we did last year, we are talking about 5 percent in cuts total. Most agencies have taken ten and 12 percent, community colleges have taken 15 percent cuts, the University has cut $41 million. So, I think there’s room for reductions.”

Tennessee Watson

Legislation to further cut education funding is making its way through the Wyoming legislature. Wednesday a bill sponsored by Senator Ray Peterson proposing approximately $140 million in cuts was discussed in committee.

 

Those reductions would be achieved through increased state control over district expenditures. Currently school districts have block grants, which they spend how they see fit. State accountability measures are in place to guarantee that spending benefits the educational needs of kids.

 

 

Tennessee Watson

Despite 10 months of work, a legislative committee has rejected changes to the school funding model. After examination, APA Consulting produced a similar price tag for funding K-12 education as what the state was spending before the last round of cuts.

 

In its last meeting before the legislative session, the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration refused to adopt the new model suggested by APA.

 

Tennessee Watson

During the upcoming budget session, lawmakers want to take a closer look at transportation and special education funding, as a part of a larger effort to reform and possibly reduce spending in the K-12 finance model.

 

Most of what school districts spend on education is covered in a block grant they receive from the state. But transportation and special education are outside that model, and districts instead bill the state for a 100 percent reimbursement.

 

APA Consulting

Small changes in enrollment can mean big changes in funding for Wyoming’s smaller K-12 schools.

 

The difference in funding resulting from the loss of one student has the biggest impact on middle and high schools. Currently, a drop in enrollment from 50 down to 49 students, means a school can lose funding for an entire teacher and a reduction in resources. Instead of using fixed cut-offs, state-hired consultants are recommending using a mathematical curve to smooth out funding.

 

David Joyce / Flickr.com

As more and more students across Wyoming enroll in classes online, it can make calculating attendance at a public school a little more tricky. And homeschool students may come to school for just a portion of the day, while other students might leave school early.

In 2017 the legislature passed a policy changing how the school finance model calculates attendance — or what’s called average daily membership.

The amount of time students spend in school impacts the amount of money districts get in their block grant from the state.

Tennessee Watson

As Wyoming policymakers prepare for the 2018 Budget Session, in which education will be a big topic, teachers are stepping up efforts to make their voices heard.

On Thursday evening, teachers and community members gathered in the backroom of a Laramie restaurant for a postcard writing party.

 

APA Consulting

Wyoming is proud of its small schools that serve kids across rugged and remote terrain. But lawmakers and educators are weighing whether small schools and small districts are financially sustainable.

 

At a meeting of the Select Committee for School Finance Recalibration last week, education consultants hired by the state legislature presented consolidation as a way to increase course offerings and extracurricular activities.

 

Design by Tennessee Watson

Wyoming lawmakers are coming at shortfalls in education funding from multiple directions as they head into the 2018 Budget Session. Through the work of interim legislative committees, they are looking for efficiencies in education and ways of generating revenue, hoping to meet somewhere in the middle.

Willow Belden

  

A Wyoming legislative committee has been looking to trim education spending out of what is called the school funding model. A Denver-based consulting firm is in the process of reviewing the model to determine how much actually needs to be spent on education in the state.

Tennessee Watson

Lawmakers met in Casper this week to examine the current school funding model and to hear recommendations from APA, a Denver-based education consulting firm hired to help the state find efficiencies in education funding.

The state legislature’s Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration has spent the last several months working with a group of Denver-based education consultants to review Wyoming’s approach to education funding. They’re hoping to find ways to save money.

 

But Laramie Senator Chris Rothfuss said time is tight. This week he and his fellow committee members will meet in Casper for the second to last time before the 2018 Legislative Session begins in February.  

 

Wyoming Legislature

Wyoming’s energy sector seems to be bouncing back, but years of uncertainty have prompted lawmakers to take a look at spending. For the last eight months, a legislative committee has been trying to wrap their heads around the true cost of K-12 education.

Senator Dave Kinskey is part of that effort, and he’s become well known for saying he wants to see Wyoming get the most bang for the buck. Wyoming Public Radio’s Tennessee Watson visited Kinskey in Sheridan to ask him what that means.

walkingschoolbus.me

The wheels on a new school bus in Jackson are actually feet. For the month of September, Teton County School District #1 is piloting a new program to get students walking to and from school rather than taking the bus.

There’s still a set route guided by at least one adult, who picks up kids at stops along the way. Charlotte Reynolds, information coordinator for Teton County schools, said the Walking School Bus is a national initiative the district decided to try after realizing it needed to reduce some of its bus routes to meet state regulations.

Wyoming Education Association

Issues facing students, schools and the teaching profession are being addressed this week at the National Education Association’s Annual Meeting in Boston. Kathy Vetter, President of the Wyoming Education Association, has joined close to 8,000 educators from every state to exchange ideas about how to improve education.