In late December the Joint Education Committee released potential solutions to the K-12 education funding deficit. In the week-long public comment period that followed, the legislature received close to 600 comments.
The Wyoming School District Coalition for an External Cost Adjustment came out in support of comprehensive approach taken by the Subcommittee on Education Deficit Reduction Options, but expressed concern that the process was happening too fast.
Superintendent Marty Kobza of Sheridan County School District One says schools are already facing a $36 million dollar cut from the last legislative session, and districts with declining student enrollment will face additional cuts.
He hoped the legislature would hold off on immediate cuts, and suggested “taking a year to 18 months to really decide how to approach this problem going forward, rather than try to put out a fire right now.”
“There is money in the legislative reserve account and the educational reserve as well that can be applied to take care of the deficit within this year. The legislative did a nice job of planning for that.” Kobza said utilizing those funds would give schools more time to respond.
“If you look at the session getting over in February, and typically the governor signs bills in March. As school administrators by law we have until April 15 to provide contracts to teachers who are returning,” according to Kobza.“That gives us a very short period of time if significant cuts are made and we have to reduce staff. And there just isn’t the time necessary in order to do that process.”
Comments on the proposed solutions to the education budget can still be submitted to individual legislators, and another public comment period will open once draft legislation hits the floor of the house and senate.