School Officials Encourage Community Members To Attend Funding Model Meeting

In preparation for the School Funding Consultation Panel in Rock Springs August 14th, officials from the Board of Education, Sweetwater County School District #1, the Sweetwater Education Association, and the Wyoming Education Association are encouraging the pubic to stay informed and get involved.

In a letter to community members, stakeholders are invited to attend the meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. at Rock Springs Junior High on Monday, August 14th.

During the meeting, the impact of the state’s educational program and the current funding model will be discussed.

The letter highlights many of the options which may be at risk through budget cuts, including reasonable class sizes, gifted and talented programs, advanced placement classes, intervention resources, extended day programs, activities, and athletics.

With potential lost-lasting impacts, residents are encouraged to contact legislators and attend the meeting to voice opinions and ideas.

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Below is the letter for the community:

Dear Community Members,

Do you want your student to lose band, welding, activities, choir, music, art, athletics, drama, physical education, speech and debate, or foreign language? And this is not a complete list.  With the loss of these programs, think about how this could impact your student.  Now is the time to let your voice be heard.

The current school funding model provides funds for reading/language arts, social studies, math, science, fine arts/performing arts, physical education, health and safety, humanities, career/vocational education, foreign cultures and languages, applied technology, government and civics. This is what the state considers the “basket of goods.”  A wellrounded education provides a variety of opportunities and choices for our students’ future. Do not allow the state to pigeon hole our students by reducing their opportunities.

Recalibration is a process that examines school funding, from materials, school facilities, and class size.  As a Sweetwater County Stakeholder, your input is important at the state’s forum. The state hired a consulting firm to make recommendations about recalibration and the future of Wyoming education. A public meeting will be held at the Rock Springs Junior High from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Monday, August 14, 2017.

Through legislative cuts, reduced state funding required Districts to cut their budgets. All of the cuts took a toll on students and staff.  Here are some of the budget cuts Sweetwater #1 took the last three years:

  • Personnel cuts totaling $5,863,500 by reducing more than 150 positions in the following areas: administration, paraprofessionals, directors, custodial and maintenance staff, certified teachers and other certified staff, and coordinators.
  • To save $402,770 we closed Lincoln Elementary.
  • To save $2,000,000 now and in future years, the District offered an early retirement incentive and froze salaries, in lieu of a reduction in force. The savings was $2,000,000 but the cost was hundreds of years of teaching experience.
  • To save $1,500,000 the District employee insurance plan was redesigned.
  • To save $1,170,000 instructional facilitator positions were eliminated.
  • To save $280,000 in transportation expenses, busing schedules were revised.

Everyone is affected by these decisions, whether you have children, grandchildren, or your next-door neighbor attends school. We all have a stake in the success of our District and community.

Currently, we are still able to offer reasonable class sizes, gifted and talented programs, advanced placement classes, intervention resources, extended day programs, activities, and athletics, to name a few. However, all of these are at risk of being eliminated. We are also able to offer highly qualified teachers to educate our students. The salaries in Wyoming are no longer an incentive to attract and retain teachers because neighboring states have closed the gap putting the quality of our work force at risk.

Please reach out to your legislators and attend the public meeting on Monday, August 14, 2017.  These decisions could have devastating lasting effects, not only on education, but also to businesses and the economy of our state.

Together, we make a difference.

Lenny Hay, Sweetwater School District Number One Board President hayl@sw1.k12.wy.us
Kelly McGovern, Superintendent of Sweetwater School District Number One mcgovernk@sw1.k12.wy.us
Nicole Bolton, Director of Human Resources Sweetwater School District Number One boltonn@sw1.k12.wy.us
Dr. Gigi Jasper, Sweetwater Education Association President jasperg@sw1.k12.wy.us
Jennifer Wilmetti, Sweetwater Education Association Vice President wilmettij@sw1.k12.wy.us
Joe Clingenpeel, Wyoming Education Association Southwest Uniserv Director jclingenpeel@wyoea.org

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