Green River Star -

By David Martin
Editor 

Cost adjustment excites district

 


During a session that had been described as “a mixed bag” and “disappointing” by local representatives in the Wyoming House, there was one success that is expected to have an impact on local educators.

The Wyoming Legislature passed an external cost adjustment for Wyoming school districts, which means an additional $1 million will flow into Sweetwater County School District No. 2. The money will go to boost teacher salaries and help update some of the aging technology across the district.

“We’re very excited,” Sandra Bowling, president of the Green River Education Association, said.

The GREA is the teachers’ union within the district. 

At the district’s board meeting last night, GREA members signed cards and placed balloons expressing their gratitude to both local legislators and the school board for working to pass the cost adjustment. Bowling said younger teachers have a more difficult time economically because the cost of living in Green River is so high, causing some younger teachers to leave the district after working for a few years. She also said the cost adjustment can help keep not only teachers, but parttime employees such as janitors and substitute teachers working within the district.

Superintendent Donna Little-Kaumo said the cost adjustment will ease negotiations between the district and the GREA, whose members haven’t received a pay increase in the last five years. The excitement over the cost adjustment isn’t just amongst district employees; school district trustees are also happy with the outcome.

“I had a yahoo moment at the radio station when I heard it passed,” Chairman Steve Core said about the adjustment.

Board members Brenda Roosa and John Malone represented the district while visiting legislators in Cheyenne during as the cost adjustment was under discussion. According to them, the adjustment looked like it was bound to fail.

“We met with Rep. (John) Freeman and Rep. (Joann) Dayton, they both thought it had a 50-50 chance of passing,” Roosa said.

Freeman, D-Green River, said the reason the adjustment passed was due to legislators listening to what teachers and administrators in their school districts were telling them, resulting in house representatives placing the issue back on the table after it was initially taken out. However, any further expansion beyond the initial external cost adjustment would have been too much for many legislators according to Freeman. One of those expansions would have been to backfill funding districts weren’t given since the last cost adjustment.

“If we tried to backfill, it would have died many deaths,” Freeman said.

While the cost adjustment is a victory for districts across the state, that victory will be short lived as legislators and school officials look toward the upcoming school funding recalibration process. Freeman and Sen. John Hastert, D-Green River, said they’re not on the recalibration committee, but plan to watch the process from the sidelines.

 

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