Teton County lawmakers are balking at a cost-of-living adjustment the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Education Committee has initially approved for school districts across the state.
The hedonic cost-of-living adjustment considers intangible benefits of living in an area, meaning teachers could be paid less if they live near cultural amenities or national parks. If the Legislature adopts the hedonic cost-of-living adjustment instead of the current cost-based model, teachers in Teton County School District One could be paid 11-percent higher than other teachers in the state, instead of 33-percent. Over all, the change could save the state six million dollars per year.
Teton County Representatives Ruth Ann Petroff and Keith Gingery say it would be unfair to teachers living in the most expensive part of the state. The Jackson Hole News and Guide quotes Gingery as saying, “You can’t eat scenery. ”
Education Committee Chairman, Sen. Hank Coe says it’s important to level the playing field for school districts that have more difficulty attracting teachers. He says the change won’t rock most school districts.
“If you spread the balance of the difference, it’s minimal pretty much," says Coe. "There’s some districts that pick up a little bit. My little district here, I think it’s like one-hundred-fifty-thousand dollars positive, and we’re about the same size as Teton One. So, winners and losers. That’s the name of it.”
Cheyenne schools would get an additional two-point-eight-million dollars under the plan.
Coe says the Joint Education Committee will meet again in January to finalize its recommendation to the Legislature.