No ECA Increase: SCSD1 Disucsses Joint Education Committee Recomendation

Sheridan County School District 1 Superintendent Marty Kobza
Sheridan County School District 1 Superintendent Marty Kobza

SCSD1 Superintendent Marty Kobza says he's disappointed with the discussions that took place at Wyoming Legislature Joint Education Committee meetings Tuesday in Casper, where the committee made a recommendation not to increase the K-12 External Cost Adjustment for district one for the third straight year.

The SCSD1 Board of Trustees discussed the recommendation at a regular meeting Tuesday night.

Kobza says this decision is disheartening for school District 1 for several reasons.

At Tuesday's meeting in Casper, Kobza said legislators were concerned about college preparedness. Money to fund remedial programs for post-secondary education is being considered, since UW and state community colleges advocated Tuesday for remedial programs.

Community colleges did cite that 50% of those requiring remediation were non-traditional students - or those who had been out of college for 10 to 20 years, Kobza said.

In 2005 and 2006, significant ECA increases allowed for increases in teacher salaries. Since that time, the legislature has not given large ECA increases to the district, according to District 1 Board Vice Chairman Johann Nield.

Wyoming has some of the highest teacher salaries of states in the region. Even so, ECA still accounts for inflation in cost of living and other state salaries, and without it, Kobza explains how the district is affected.

Representative Mike Madden sits on the Joint Education Committee, and Kobza said Madden, though not with a formal recommendation, suggested a 3.0 ECA increase on Tuesday.

Kobza told the board that from their end it will be important to communicate this issue with the Appropriations Committee, because without an increase in district enrollment, combined with no ECA increase for the third straight year, District 1 will have to find ways to make up for increasing costs.

Sheridan Representative Rosie Berger is chair for the Joint Appropriations Committee. They will discuss the recommendation from the Joint Education Committee later this year before it goes to the State Legislature in spring of 2012.

Kobza and District 1 Business Manager Jeremy Smith will be in Casper again Wednesday for more Legislature Joint Eduction meetings.

External Cost Adjustment
External Cost Adjustment exists in order to account for inflation in school districts, providing increases so that schools can afford to offer the same educational services from year to year.

ECA considers things like cost of living changes and the Wyoming Comparable Wage Index, among others. A study from the state legislature this year said that components within ECA vary, meaning that they may not form a complete picture of educational cost.

View the full report here.

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