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Funding Cliffs Impact Small School Equity

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.


Amanda Brown, from APA Consulting, presented the recommendation to the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration. She said, while there aren’t too many schools in Wyoming affected by these funding cliffs, the impact is still serious enough to address.


“Where you have plus or minus one kid, it can generate significantly more or less dollars,” said Brown. “So, you want to smooth those out to make sure funding is more predictable for your schools.”


Brown said the goal is to enforce equity of opportunity.


“So the idea that it takes different resources based on a school’s size to provide the similar basket of goods and services.”


During the 2018 budget session, policymakers will consider funding cliffs and other changes to the school finance model.


Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
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