Legislation could change the formula the state uses to calculate cost of living adjustment for school districts. Cost of living determines how school districts are funded each year to pay teachers, and the change could mean cuts for 31 districts across the state, including Sheridan County School District 1.
There are currently three formulas used in the process of determining how districts receive a cost of living adjustment: the Wyoming Cost of Living Index, the Hedonic Wage Index, and a state average. After the three are calculated, the one that is found to grant the most to a school district is used.
Legislation would switch solely to the Hedonic Wage Index, a formula which attempts to calculate the value of living in a community, taking into account financial and non-financial rewards in an area.
Superintendent Marty Kobza.
Kobza told the board of trustees at their regular meeting Tuesday night that the estimated loss from this change would be a $315,000 cut from what District 1 expects to receive from the state. He used the example that the amount is equivalent to five teachers.
Of the remaining school districts in the state, 14 would get more money under the Hedonic formula, and three would not be affected. Sheridan County School District 2, for example would not be hurt by the switch. Cheyenne and Casper schools would see more money. Teton County School District estimates that they would lose the most at $3.8 million. Johnson County School District 1 stands to lose an estimated $1 million.
The Joint Education Committee heard presentations from consultants out of Texas A&M University last fall, that said some districts are over-funded, allowing them to attract and better-pay teachers than others.
Kobza said they will continue to make their case to area legislators throughout the legislative session that begins on February 13.