education

Tennessee Watson

The Wyoming House of Representatives wrapped up week one of the 2018 Budget Session on Friday shortly before 3:30 p.m., which has some policymakers disappointed.

 

The last day to introduce bills, the early adjournment meant there were over 15 bills that got the ax without even being discussed. House Minority Leader Cathy Connolly said the House never got to discuss a tobacco tax, a sales and use tax rate and changes to a real estate tax, among others.

 

Wyoming Department of Education

In his State of the State address, Governor Matt Mead urged the legislature to find ways to stabilize education funding, which relies heavily on revenues from the energy industry. But attempts to diversify the tax base — to protect school finance from booms and busts — have gone nowhere. Lawmakers who oppose generating new revenue sources say school finance is too opaque. They want more time to settle their uncertainty.

 

Ten months and $800,000 later, the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration has completed its in-depth look at how Wyoming finances education. Members of APA Consulting, who were tasked with examining the equity and adequacy of the school funding model, told lawmakers the state’s current approach works but pointed out areas for improvement. Despite a recommendation to spend more, lawmakers are opting to spend less.

Kamila Kudelska

As lawmakers are discussing whether to add computer science and computational thinking to the state educational curriculum, they are looking to Powell as an example. Powell is one of only five school districts teaching computer science. Wyoming Public Radio’s Kamila Kudelska takes a deeper dive into how their curriculum has developed and persisted throughout the years.

Tennessee Watson

Despite 10 months of work, a legislative committee has rejected changes to the school funding model. After examination, APA Consulting produced a similar price tag for funding K-12 education as what the state was spending before the last round of cuts.

 

In its last meeting before the legislative session, the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration refused to adopt the new model suggested by APA.

 

As policymakers head into the 2018 Budget Session, education is a topic many will be watching. Wyoming Public Radio's Tennessee Watson joined Morning Edition Host Caroline Ballard to examine what might be in store after education consultants hired by the state recommended giving more money to education instead of implementing cuts.

Graphics from Education Week. Layout by Tennessee Watson

Wyoming was given a B-minus score for its education quality, according to recently released data in Education Week’s report Quality Counts 2018. That puts it above the national average of a C, and the seventh best in the nation.

 

The grades are based on three criteria: chance for success, K-12 achievement, and school finance.

commons.wikimedia.org

A proposal to increase the recommended average class size in Wyoming schools is part of what lawmakers are reviewing in preparation for the 2018 Legislative Budget Session. Increasing class size has been discussed by policy makers as way to reduce costs.

 

The Park County School District #6 school board in Cody voted Tuesday to table the first reading of a policy which would allow employees to carry firearms. The decision to postpone further action comes with the condition that the board send out a survey to teachers and the community within the next month.

During the meeting, board members expressed concern that budget and insurance questions posed by the public were still unanswered.

Tennessee Watson

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act was one of the bipartisan triumphs of 2017. Referred to as the “Forever GI Bill,” it makes significant changes to education benefits for service members and veterans, like no longer requiring them to use their benefits within 15 years of active-duty service. But supporting veterans in higher education is more complicated than just giving them more time.

 

Marty Martinez spent 29 years in the military before coming to the University of Wyoming.

 

Kamila Kudelska

Most of those who spoke at a public hearing Monday night in Cody told the Park County District #6 school board that they did not support a proposal to allow armed personnel in public schools.

Two-thirds of those testifying said that guns should be the last, not first security measure. Instead, money should go into introducing smarter security technologies in school buildings. Yetzi Daren Jobaner said even in Wyoming there are places guns don't belong.

Kamila Kudelska

Shannon Hill shuffled into the gymnasium of her middle school, thinking it was just another school assembly. But instead, the teacher got the surprise of her lifetime.

Hill, a middle school physical education and health teacher in Thermopolis, was presented with what has been dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching” award, which comes with an unrestricted cash prize of $25,000. Hill is the only winner of the Milken Educator Award for 2017-2018 from Wyoming out of 44 honorees throughout the nation.

 

Wyoming Sexual Violence Prevention Council

Most states have existing laws or pending legislation requiring public schools to teach sexual violence prevention. That leaves Wyoming as one of the few states with absolutely nothing on the books. The Wyoming Sexual Violence Prevention Council is working to fill that gap by supporting a growing network of local projects; among them is a program that works with K-12 student athletes.

Screenshot from the APA Consulting survey

Leading up to the 2018 budget session, Wyoming lawmakers hired education consultants to study the school funding model.

 

The idea was to find ways the state can save money while still meeting its constitutional obligation to provide all students with a proper education. The consultants have released a 552-page draft of their recommendations and they’re taking public feedback through an online survey.

 

Anna Rader

As part of our series, “I Respectfully Disagree,” Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards journeyed into the heart of Wyoming’s coal country to the city of Gillette up in the northeast corner. Recently, it’s become an intensely divided community. In the last election, Wyoming went in greater percentage to Donald Trump than any other state, but Campbell County was one of the counties that supported Trump more than any other in Wyoming.

Map from pixabay.com Image by Tennessee Watson

Consultants hired by the state legislature to help Wyoming bring efficiencies to the school funding model are asking lawmakers to consider adding a voluntary pre-K program for 4-year-olds.

The consultants found that investing in early childhood education could reduce K-12 resource needs in the long run, like more expensive interventions required for closing achievement gaps with older students. Wyoming is one of seven states without a statewide preschool program.

Tennessee Watson

Nicole Rapp is the principal at Crest Hill Elementary School in Casper. Last February, she took a road trip with some of her staff to Sheridan to see one of the state’s highest-performing districts in action.

“Our excitement when we got back in that car that day to drive back to Casper was just wow. It is different," Rapp said.   

She said that’s because Sheridan School District #2 uses the Professional Learning Community model—or PLC—where teachers and administrators work in collaborative teams to support student learning.

cityofcody-wy.gov

The Wyoming state legislature passed a law in March allowing school districts to choose whether their employees can carry firearms. Legislatures said the law would help many rural schools in Wyoming that are far away from law enforcement to react to an armed intruder. So far, a couple of school districts have begun to debate the possibility of introducing such a policy.

Park County School District #6 in Cody is the first school board actually working on drafting a policy that will be introduced to the public on January 8.

Willow Belden

  

A Wyoming legislative committee has been looking to trim education spending out of what is called the school funding model. A Denver-based consulting firm is in the process of reviewing the model to determine how much actually needs to be spent on education in the state.

Meghan Chapman Twitter: @mrs_chapman3

Teachers and educators globally are beginning to incorporate technology more in their classrooms. Microsoft’s Skype in the Classroom breaks the walls of classrooms, allowing students to take virtual field trips to museums, zoos, and other institutions. One of the facilities is the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. The museum has situated itself to be one of the program’s most prolific partners.

Tennessee Watson

Lawmakers met in Casper this week to examine the current school funding model and to hear recommendations from APA, a Denver-based education consulting firm hired to help the state find efficiencies in education funding.

Wyoming Education Association

Teachers often spend their own money on classroom supplies. Currently, they can be repaid up to $250 of that through a federal tax deduction. But, that’s now up for debate in Congress. The Senate GOP tax plan would double the deduction to $500, but the House plan cuts it all together.

 

Kathy Vetter, president of the Wyoming Education Association, said the deduction is an important vote of support for teachers.

 

Kamila Kudelska

The Park County School District Six school board in Cody is considering allowing employees to carry concealed firearms in schools.

This comes after the Wyoming State Legislature passed a law this year allowing school districts to choose whether their employees can carry guns. The reasoning for the law was that it would better protect rural schools that are far away from law enforcement.

www.brianlonerart.com

Writing has only been around about 5,000 years, so it’s the work of archaeologists to figure out the stories of early humans before there was a written record. Laramie-based archaeologist Rich Adams has just published the World Prehistory Coloring Book, relaying those 3.5 million years.

 

After working in Wyoming for 24 years he started teaching university courses, and he said he found students would get overwhelmed and intimidated because there’s just so much to learn.

Celebrating its 17th year, the Wyoming Latina Youth Conference hosted young Wyoming women of Hispanic descent for two days of programming in Laramie on October 13 and 14. The theme this year was, “embracing leadership, science, and creativity.”

Over 200 female students in 5th through 12th grade attended workshops on science, technology, and creativity, in order to foster a belief in the power to choose their future.

Restorative Justice Council

Each year there are over 700 incidents involving child offenders reported to law enforcement in Albany County. But the county’s prosecuting attorney Peggy Trent says at least 70 percent of the cases she sees could actually be handled in schools using restorative justice -- a practice that focuses on accountability and healing, rather than punishment.

Tennessee Watson

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is going to six states to look at how educators are working to meet the individual needs of K-12 students, starting off in Wyoming. The Rethink School Tour kicked off Tuesday as she visited the Woods Learning Center in Casper, Wyo. — an elementary and middle school known for personalized learning.  

 

US Department of Education

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos starts her 2017 Rethink School Tour Tuesday in Wyoming. At 8:30 in the morning she’ll visit the Woods Learning Center in Casper, followed by the St. Stephens Indian School on the Wind River Reservation at 12:30. DeVos announced the schools she planned to visit Monday afternoon, the day before her arrival.

 

Bob Beck

  

On Tuesday, City Council members and others will converge on the legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee to suggest ways that communities could raise more money for themselves.

Lawmakers are worried about maintaining local government funding due to the downturn in the energy economy and because of education funding needs. Wyoming Association of Municipalities Director Rick Kaysen joins us to say that if local governments could raise more money internally, it could address budget uncertainty. 

Central Wyoming College

 

Central Wyoming College in Riverton sits in a very unique spot in the state: right next door to the Wind River Indian Reservation. Many of its students are Native American. But now, the school is stepping up to do even more for the tribal community and are well underway in designing a program to educate future Native leaders.

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