During a Wyoming House Education Committee meeting, School District officials said they have been cutting budgets for many years and those cuts are starting to erode programs. The committee is looking at cutting education funding by $100 million.
School leaders urged lawmakers to find the money to pay for education and avoid cuts. School district officials testified during a public hearing that they are charging fees to keep activities afloat, are asking teachers to take on additional duties including special education and are reducing their budgets that have been downsized by legislative directives and in some cases the local tax base.
Thermopolis School Board Member Nichole Weyer told the committee that they can't cut any more.
"Hot Springs County is as slim as we can get, we've cut everything. And if we have to cut more activities, the scary thing for our town is that it is the activity for adults and children alike. Our entire community goes to ball games, they go to the school plays, the school is the activity for our community," said Weyer.
After several hours of testimony, the committee passed an amendment that changed some numbers in the school funding formula and reduced it to a $66 million cut. Rep. Cathy Connolly (D) Laramie told the committee that the changes to the funding model were based on the opinion of legislators and not from consultants who want lawmakers to spend more on education.
"We don't get to put our own choices in there. Every one of us has ideas, every one of us has relationships with our school district, every one of us can talk to 20 people. But we're not allowed to simply take our judgement and call it evidence based," said Connolly.
The Committee will continue working on the bill next week.