Schools Get Share of Revenue Surge
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2005 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
Legislators pumped millions of dollars into education during the Wyoming’s recently concluded session, ending with a budget of just over $1 billion a year for K-12 programs for fiscal year 2007.
The finance model that was used to create the budget is intended to address concerns about equity in funding among school districts. It represents an increase of about 23 percent from the $841 million spent on education in fiscal 2006. In addition, the state added $37 million for major maintenance for schools and set aside $300 million for school construction.
The largess is the result of mineral royalties, sales-tax revenues, and state investments, said Mary Kay Hill, the director of the administration unit for the Wyoming Department of Education. The state is projecting a surplus of about $1.8 billion this year.
One of the biggest additions to Wyoming’s education budget is the Hathaway scholarship program, named after former Gov. Stanley K. Hathaway. Eligible Wyoming students can receive up to $1,600 a semester to attend the University of Wyoming or a state community college. The scholarships will begin with this year’s high school senior class.
The program will be financed through an endowment of $400 million, but about $17 million was set aside by the legislature this year to jump-start the program for the 2006 graduating class.
The budget will pay for 300 teacher-coaches who will work in schools to improve instruction around the state, and also fully funds full-day kindergarten. In previous years, kindergarten was paid for in part by local districts. The state will also pay for students to take either the ACT college-entrance exam or the WorkKeys assessments, which measure job skills.
Vol. 25, Issue 36, Page 22