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State Superintendent: Wyoming Schools Face Tough Choices

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Ian Waldie, Getty Images

Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow says school districts across Wyoming will have to make some tough decisions about how to deal with a cut in state funding approved by the lawmakers in the recent legislative session.

The Wyoming House and Senate finally approved a bill that is expected to cut somewhere in the range of $34 million to $35 million in state money on July 1.

Even those cuts are well below a Senate proposal that at one point would have cut about $91 million from school funding as Wyoming continues to struggle with a downturn in the state economy that is posing major revenue challenges for state government.

But Balow says even though the final bill approved by lawmakers implements more modest cuts, that doesn’t mean local schools won;t face some hard choices. She says that while the state “has laid down some guidelines,” for dealing with the cuts, the final decisions will be made by local school boards across the state.

The Superintendent says she expects discussions about several different options, ranging from staff cuts to elimination of programs to possibly the closure of some schools. Balow says if schools are closed she thinks the most likely candidates are small rural schools.

But she says she also thinks there are some districts around the state that are “top heavy” with administrators and may target some of those positions for elimination as a way to save money. She adds, however, that those decisions will have to be made at the local level rather than being mandated by the state.

Balow goes on to say she thinks some districts may be able to cut enough positions through attrition to save the needed money, while others probably won’t.

Laramie County School District #1 Superintendent John Lyttle recently said he thinks the cuts to his district will likely come out to between $5 million and $6 million.

Lyttle said the district is hoping to make the needed staff cuts through attrition rather than layoffs. But he also said he thinks the district may look at cutting some programs as well.

 

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