Green River Star -

By Lillian Palmer
Staff Writer 

Millions cut from school districts

 


“I tried really hard, but still didn’t do everything I wanted to,” Wyoming state representative John Freeman said at last week’s Sweetwater County School District No. 2 board meeting.

He described it as a rough legislative session.

Green River’s representatives thought the money was going to be there for the upcoming biennium after last year’s recalibration, but then it wasn’t and was taken out. Freeman said the money was put back by the governor, and then lastly taken out again by the Joint of Appropriations Committee.

“The Joint of Appropriations Committee did their ‘magic,’” he said.

The end result was a cut to the K12 education by $45 million. The cut by the Joint of Appropriations Committee was done based on their penny plan, which takes a little portion every year to “balance the budget.”

An argument Freeman used to counter the committee’s decision to cut funds was one he said the school board advised him on previously; declining school enrollments.

“If you do a penny plan and you’re taking money away from the school districts before the declining enrollments’ in, that’s a double hit,” he said. “We were getting about 12 to 14 votes to say we don’t want to do this, so hopefully we can get a little bit more.”

Freeman said there were some amendments that attempted to pass to change it back to full-funding, but were unsuccessful.

The last amendment was almost successful. The amendment would have given the school districts their $45 million back, but in that scenario transportation was cut.

“That’s the only thing I voted for, because it was going to put all that money back into the classroom,” Freeman said. “I was hoping that we could find transportation costs a little bit after that.”

The amendment passed, but only for a short time before it was declared unconstitutional, he said.

At that point, it was up to the committee between the houses.

The end result was a state-wide cut to the K12 education system by $36 million. That could mean a cut by about over $1 million to both Sweetwater County districts.

“The reality is, I think people who really love K12 funding did the best they could, and that’s the best that they could do in the legislative forum,” he said.

 

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