Published Online: December 16, 1998
Published in Print: December 16, 1998, as State Journal

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Coming Up Short

Wyoming school districts have been shortchanged three times this year, and, in each case, the state's new school funding formula is being blamed.

The state's 48 districts can expect less money for major repairs and building maintenance this year because of a miscalculation in the funding formula that was discovered in October.

Separately, another error related to per-pupil funding--also discovered in October--will cost schools $1.7 million. The formula is also being cited as the culprit in a mistake that cost one district $270,000.

Statewide, school officials were told at the beginning of the school year that they would share up to $15 million in state funding for maintenance projects in fiscal 1999.

But an error in the formula boosted the budget estimate, said Leeds Pickering, the program manager for capital construction and school facilities in the Wyoming Department of Education. After new revisions, the estimated funding total will fall to about $13 million.

"We're finding that as we apply the new formula, it's not working the way we thought it would," Mr. Pickering said.

The education department is calculating how much schools can actually expect to receive. It should have an answer for districts this month.

Historic Gift

Idaho's state board of education last month formally accepted a $28 million technology grant--the first installment of a $110 million grant issued in May--from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.

The $110 million grant from the Boise-based philanthropy is the largest such gift in state history. It will provide funding for technology, teacher standards, and reading instruction. Specifically, nearly $80 million of it has been set aside for technology.

The first installment of the technology grant will provide $250,000 each for K-12 school districts and $50,000 each for districts with fewer than 20 students. A portion will be used to hire three people to oversee the foundation's technology initiative. Each of the state's 112 districts must submit a technology plan to the Idaho Council on Technology and Learning.

State education officials will begin touring the state Jan. 13 to inform districts about specific procedures for submitting their technology plans.

--Adrienne D. Coles & Karen L. Abercrombie

Vol. 18, Issue 16, Page 17

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