Wyoming's next legislative session is just around the corner; the next General Session convenes in January 2011. Sheridan Media's Betsy Love has more:
And while many people around Wyoming and the nation have been focused on health care and job creation, Wyoming's Legislature will be dealing with some other important issues that often get overshadowed. Wyoming State Senator John Schiffer:
Since 1997, Wyoming's school funding formula is reviewed and “recalibrated” at least every five years. Recently, Wyoming's Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration has been meeting and reviewing the current funding formula, preparing to make recommendations during this upcoming legislative session. One of the problems Wyoming's school system is currently grappling with is that although Wyoming ranks near the top in the nation for the amount of money we spend on education, the results do not always reflect the dollars spent:
And fixing Wyoming's educational system is perhaps a prerequisite for fixing some of our other problems around the state. For instance, Senator Schiffer adds that he thinks education it is the most “important economic tool we have:”
In the last fiscal year, the state spent over $1.2 billion on school districts, in addition to $114 million received in federal funds. Still, according to statistics provided by the Casper-Star Tribune, 25% of Wyoming's 3rd graders are reading below grade-level.
However, some say the problem isn't so much in the funding model itself, but how it is implemented. For instance, class size in Wyoming is supposed to be limed to 21 students; reports of classroom sizes exceeding that number are common. Also, there are some who say the current funding model is still too new and more time is needed to see how effective it is.
In any case, it is almost certain there will be changes to Wyoming's school funding model. What specifically those changes will be probably won't fully be known until this upcoming legislative session.
For Sheridan Media dot com news, this is Betsy Love reporting.