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Cutting Student Activities, Eliminating Teacher Mentorship Program Listed as Suggestions for Dealing with State’s Deficit

Cutting Student Activities, Eliminating Teacher Mentorship Program Listed as Suggestions for Dealing with State’s Deficit

In a new white paper generated by a subcommittee of Wyoming's Legislature’s Joint Education Committee, the unfortunate side effects of scarce funding are articulated in how the subcommittee suggests the state should proceed.

The paper was written in order to address the looming "estimated $360 and $400 million annual shortfall in the 2019-2020 and 2021-2022 biennia, respectively for funding the daily operations of Wyoming." The paper aims to offer solutions to fund the day-to-day operations of Wyoming schools with the exception of funding for K-12 capital construction and major maintenance of buildings; the paper says this must be separately addressed "in the near future."

Some solutions include consolidating districts from 48 to 23, purchasing instead of leasing school buses and reducing central office administration salaries.

Other solutions detail just how desperate Wyoming's funding issue is.

The paper suggests reducing funding for student activities by half in order to save $15 million annually. It also suggests cutting mandated professional development days (from ten to five) and completely eliminating the state's Instructional Facilitator Program.

The paper says eliminating the program will result in $22 million in annual savings, this despite the fact that research into the program has determined it to be a successful way to coach the state's teachers, especially in its many rural areas.

After conducting a cross-district survey in 2011, researchers concluded that "[a]lthough differences by teaching level were apparent, the majority of respondents indicated they wished to continue working with an Instructional Facilitator and that Wyoming is spending its money wisely on the program."

Though the paper lists cutting spending to student activities and eliminating the Instructional Facilitator Program as solutions, it does not elaborate on why.

The subcommittee behind the paper is currently looking for public comments on its suggestions before officially making them to members of the House and Senate Education Committees during the 2017 General Session.

"The goal of the Subcommittee is to draft legislation based upon the feedback from stakeholders to frame the draft legislation for the House and Senate Education Committees to consider. The House and Senate Education Committees would then hold public meetings during the first week of the 2017 General Session to consider sponsoring the draft legislation," the paper says.

Read the proposal in its entirety here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

12/29/2016

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