Significant education budget cuts expected in upcoming school years

A projected shortfall of ~43% is expected in the Wyoming Education Fund for the next two school years due to a downturn in Wyoming’s main revenue generator – the extractive industry. This shortfall has initiated conversations at schools across the state on possible ways to cut their budgets by 10-20%.

Fremont County School District #25 Board of Trustees held their first public forum about these potential budget cuts last night, November 30th. This was the first of many discussions to come over the next few months as the Board works to make sure funding statutes are met and seeks additional funding avenues.

“We felt like it was important to engage the public in this discussion,” FCSD #25 Superintendent JoAnne Andre-Flanagan said during the meeting. In this preliminary phase of looking at possible budget cuts, everything is currently on the table. The Board is seeking input from the community on what is important to them and thoughts on where the probable cuts could be taken.

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Wyoming schools receive a guaranteed level of funding from the Wyoming School Foundation Program. That guaranteed amount of funding is based on a few different factors, but the most important is enrollment numbers – aka Average Daily Membership (ADM) – from the previous school year, FCSD #25 Business Manager Lu Beecham explained.

FCSD #25 enrollment is down ~200 students this year, which calculates to an ADM of ~65 and will result in an approximate funding loss of $1M, according to Superintendent Andre-Flanagan. The District on average has ~2,400 students.

The majority of funding in District #25 is allocated to personnel costs – salaries and benefits – 84% to be exact. This includes teachers, counselors, social workers, nurses, admin, etc…The remaining 16% goes toward the non-personnel costs such as utilities, technology infrastructure, activity/sports equipment and supplies, etc…

As of right now with this projected ~43% shortfall for education in Wyoming, the State is considering a 10-20% cut in school budgets. For District #25 it looks like the following: 10% would result in an additional $4M loss – 45 FTE (full-time equivalent) proportional across all categories. Double those numbers for the 20% cut.

“The District has been fiscally conservative,” Superintendent Andre-Flanagan said. “This gives us a reserve to mitigate the budget cuts, but not enough to manage this level of cut.” The reserve is 15% ($5.6M), however, it would need to be spread over the next two years. The reserve would also not be replaced, shared Board of Trustees Chair Carl Manning.

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This is just a snapshot of potential cuts at one of Fremont County’s seven school districts. FCSD #25 Board of Trustees invites anyone who would like to share their thoughts or ideas on these potential budget cuts to contact them. A PDF version of the slide presentation at the November 30th meeting can be viewed by clicking here.

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