Cuts coming for school district

By Sarah Pridgeon

Changes made to school funding by the Wyoming State Legislature last week will affect Crook County’s students – though, says Superintendent Mark Broderson, it will be a few more weeks before solid figures are available. Enrolled Act 68 modifies the system in several areas, including enrolment calculations and special education funding.

“We do not get our funding model until the first week of April, and that’s when we’re going to know for sure what the impact is on Crook County School District,” he says.

“We are going to have less funding and we will lose funding in the ADM model, in transportation, special education and in the groundskeeper, but they’re going to put it on a sliding scale, so we’re going to lose about 30 percent [of the total cut] each year over the next three years.”

Until the bill was passed, the ADM – average daily membership – on which funding for districts is based was calculated per school. Reportedly to prevent overlap when students move between schools, the new law makes the calculation at the district level.

Other areas in which cuts will appear include funding for groundskeepers, transportation and a cap on the amount available for special education for the next two years.

Unfortunately, Broderson says, CCSD is not among the five smallest districts for whom the bill capped the cuts to a total of 2.5 percent of their budget. It is not yet clear exactly how deep the cuts will be at the local level.

“We don’t know how much we’re going to lose each year, we don’t know where we’re going to be at in three years – until we get that funding model in April, we don’t have any hard numbers,” he says.

“If they’re taking some out of one piece of the pie, that means there’s less pie for everybody else. Even though it’s coming out of one area, there’s probably going to be a trickledown effect to other areas as well.”

The preparations that the district has made since belts began to tighten may pay dividends as the new reductions take hold, however.

“We’ve known this is coming and made some adjustments over the last couple of years. We’ve reduced staffing, we’ve looked at our calendar and made some adjustments there, we moved Bear Lodge to Hulett – we’ve done some things that will help financially, but you never want to lose money,” Broderson says.

“Hopefully we’re in good shape.”