Wyoming spends significantly more on education than most states. The national average is around $12,000 per student each year, while Wyoming spends over $19,000. But Wyoming’s funding deficit has caused policy makers to question what exactly the state is paying for, and if the high price tag is required to provide a quality education.
On Tuesday, legislators on the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration met for the first time with APA Consulting — a firm contracted to help re-evaluate the state’s educational program and funding model.
APA has to move fast. The committee needs a recommendation going into the 2018 Budget Session. Their work plan includes looking at how Wyoming compares to other states, and a study on how spending affects academic performance.
APA will also gather public input, which Speaker of the House Steve Harshman said is critical to the process.
“No one person has all the ideas on this thing. I think all of this will eventually be the combination of a lot of compromise and ideas,” said Harshman. “You figure out the best you can do, and what you can live with and pay for, and all those kinds of things.”
But Harshman acknowledged there’s a lot to get done between now and January. “I think it is going to be a hurdle for everybody just because it’s a tight timeline,” said Harshman. “But I think folks will give their input, I really do, and I think if we provide some opportunities through online and some of those things as well that’s always good.”
APA will meet with educators in Rock Springs, Cody, Buffalo and Cheyenne the week of August 14. These are the first of many efforts to collect public input and the committee made it clear they need everyone – from teachers to parents to business leaders – to participate.
Materials from the meeting, including APA's work plans, are available here through the Legislative Services Office.