The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Education Committee released a document outlining possible solutions to Wyoming’s education funding crisis and has asked for immediate public input.
The Subcommittee on Education Deficit Reduction Options was tasked with offering strategies to address the current funding model, while maintaining the quality of public education.
The Subcommittee’s proposed solutions, which will be considered in the upcoming legislative session, include spending reductions, using savings to offset shortfalls, identifying additional revenue streams, amending spending policies, and identifying revenue enhancements.
Wyoming Department of Education Superintendent Jillian Balow described education funding as a dire situation, but as cuts are being considered she encourages the legislature to protect the investments that have already been made in public education.
“As the state superintendent I think that one of our most important priorities is to make sure that we stay focused also on school improvement and on building upon the great education system that we have in Wyoming and not simply casting that aside to talk about education finance,” said Balow.
She pointed to small class size and the instructional facilitator program as investments that should be maintained.
The document released also draws attention to the education system’s overwhelming dependence on the mineral industry. In the past, 65 percent of the K-12 operations budget came from mineral production and taxes paid by energy producers, which has since declined. In the document, members of the Subcommittee wrote: “the problem cannot be solved with a focus solely on increasing revenues or decreasing expenditures.”
Wyoming Department of Education, Chief of Staff, Dicky Shanor said the Subcommittee’s efforts to present multiple options and a more strategic approach sets a much needed precedent.
“We can’t go into the session with individual piece meal attempts at fixing the shortfall that we are experiencing, through individual bills,” Shanor said. “That we needed a more methodical and comprehensive approach and now it has actually come to fruition.”
The Subcommittee's proposed solutions are open for review and public comments can be submitted through January 4.
For more information visit: http://legisweb.state.wy.us/LSOWEB/Default.aspx