The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2004 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.
Flush with state mineral revenues, Wyoming added a substantial amount in supplemental funding to its education budget, which is in the second year of the state’s two-year budget cycle.
Spending on K-12 education in fiscal 2006, the second year of the biennium, will be funded at about $839.6 million, an increase of about 10.5 percent over what had been originally budgeted for fiscal 2006.
The largest chunk of the new money, about $33.3 million, will be used to help local school districts pay for employee health insurance.
The Wyoming legislature also plans to investigate the feasibility of including school district employees in the group health plan offered to other state employees.
Another $22.7 million of the increased state funding will go to one-time bonuses for teachers, classified personnel, and professional-staff members as a part of a recruitment and retention effort. The money will also pay for other teacher incentives, including an expansion of the state teacher-of-the-year program and the Wyoming Teacher Policy Institute, based at the University of Wyoming.
At the institute, teachers study issues or practices that have been shown to improve student achievement, and work to develop policy recommendations for state leaders and their own districts.
About $10.7 million will be used to partially reimburse districts for providing full-day kindergarten and summer school programs.
The programs represent “critical funding for Wyoming school districts,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Trent Blankenship said in a statement.
“The health-insurance adjustment and education programs will both have a positive impact on education,” added Mr. Blankenship, a Republican who was elected to the post.