Top heavy school districts are a concern for lawmakers looking for improved efficiencies in school finance. According to the latest data from the Wyoming Department of Education, in 2015-2016, there were more administrators statewide than what’s recommended in the school funding model, but that’s not a reflection of all districts’ employment practices.
There are 17 districts, for example, that employed fewer administrators than what’s recommended. Many come close to meeting the mark, and a handful employed almost double what’s recommended in the model.
Those differences are a result of staffing decisions made by each district’s local school board. But a new bill sponsored by Pinedale Representative Albert Sommers would limit school boards to hire the number of administrators calculated by the school funding model. Sommers said his intention with the bill was to get a conversation started.
Brian Farmer with the Wyoming School Board Association said school board meetings are open to the public and provide opportunities for communities to discuss reducing administrative costs if they need to.
“To tell the districts that they need to do something without really understanding or looking at what’s already being done,” Farmer said is something he cautions against. “I don’t feel that a bill that just limits numbers is necessary because it doesn’t answer the more important question which is why.”
Farmer said when he served as a school board member he saw administrators take cuts to protect resources for the classroom.
“That’s going to be a district by district story,” said Farmer. “But there is example after example of administrators taking cuts above and beyond the rest of the district cuts, and there is that scrutiny that happens every year when the year has to pass its budget.”
The bill will be under consideration when the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration meets next week in preparation for the 2018 Budget Session.