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.