Tell lawmakers to “Buck Up” for Wyoming public schools

Folks:

The Wyoming State Legislature’s “Special Committee on School Finance Recalibration” is asking for comments from citizens about public education funding.

Wyoming public schools face a roughly $250 million annual budget shortfall due to decreases in mineral tax revenues. This is after the State Legislature cut $55 million from the annual budget over the past two years while refusing to raise new revenues.

Schools statewide have already eliminated 577 jobs as a result, while 44 of Wyoming’s 48 school districts have cut programs. Now, Senate President Eli Bebout wants to see an additional $200 million cut from the education budget.

It is time to tell lawmakers to stop cutting the education budget and raise new revenues for Wyoming public schools.

It’s easy:

  1. Click here for the Legislature’s comments form.
  2. Use the drop-down menu to select “School Finance Recalibration”
  3. Enter your identifying information
  4. Use the comments box to tell lawmakers to stop cutting education funding and raise new revenues for Wyoming public schools
  5. OPTIONAL: Before you click “Submit,” copy and past your comments in an email to “nate@betterwyo.org” so we can use your message to encourage others to speak up. We won’t share anything without your explicit permission.

Lawmakers like Sen. Eli Bebout constantly say that Wyoming doesn’t get enough “bang for its buck” when it comes to education. Others complain that Wyoming teachers have “bloated salaries.” But as Park County School Board member Kimberly Condie pointed out, the facts just don’t support these bogus claims. Our students are performing well while our teacher salary rates are falling behind neighboring states’ making it harder and harder to keep good educators in Wyoming.

[Op-ed: The Wyoming Legislature should stop viewing teachers as a problem in the state’s budget and realize they’re crucial to our children’s education]

Most impressively, Wyoming the very best state in the nation at closing the achievement gap between students who receive free and reduced lunch and their better-off classmates. This likely won’t be true if lawmakers cut the education budget further.

[ARTICLE: Wyoming is the best in the United States at educating low-income students. But will our leading role survive the Legislature’s budget cuts?]

But none of this matters to lawmakers like Bebout who absolutely refuse to raise new revenues, even if it means throwing the gains we’ve made in education into the garbage. They know they can’t cut more on top of the $55 million without doing a little song and dance to show they’re exploring alternatives, which is what this whole “recalibration” thing is about:

[ARTICLE: “Recalibration” won’t make Wyoming public schools more efficient—but it provides political cover to lawmakers who want to cut education funding]

But in the end, “recalibration” is a waste of time and taxpayer money if it’s aimed at seriously saving money on education. When the rushed “recalibration” committee fails to reduce costs significantly, Bebout and his cronies will try to make deep cuts to Wyoming education. This will result in school districts suing the state, which will waste more time and taxpayer money and leave us where we are now.

[From the Casper Star-Tribune: Better Wyoming takes aim at school funding review process, Senate leadership]

The Wyoming State Constitution guarantees each student in our state access to a high quality education. Investing in public schools is critical to our ability to attract talent to the state, cultivate a skilled workforce, develop an enlightened society, and give our children a fighting chance in an increasingly difficult economic landscape.

Tell our elected representatives that education is important to Wyoming, and we are willing to pay for it.

Again, here’s the link to the Legislature’s education comment form.

Thank you for speaking up for Wyoming public schools.

Sincerely,

Nate Martin
Director, Better Wyoming

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