Wyoming Education Association

Summer 2021

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/1390700

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Page 6 of 31

EDUCATION FUNDING Combatting false narrative by understanding FACT VS FICTION Fiction: Wyoming spends too much money per student, and we don't get enough "bang for our buck." Fact: Wyoming spent $18,090 per student in 2019, ranking third in the nation, behind Vermont and New York. While it's true that Wyoming's spending per pupil is amongst the highest in the nation, per-pupil spending isn't an appropriate metric for an "apples to apples" comparison. Because of the rural nature of our state, Wyoming students are unable to capitalize on the economies of scale benefiting students in more urban, populated areas of the country. It is also important to note that Wyoming schools lead the nation in terms of student achievement and equity. Wyoming has consistently scored in the top ten states in the nation for equity, student achievement, and school finance.* Even small districts offer a high-quality education equivalent to those enjoyed by students in more populous areas of the state. Simply put: Wyoming does more for students in smaller districts than other states. *Numbers and rankings referenced come from Education Week's Quality Counts Report. Fiction: Legislators can make cuts to education without impacting students, teachers, or classrooms. Fact: Close to 85% of the dollars utilized to fund education go to salaries in school districts. Cuts to education will reduce personnel and/or reduce the salaries used to attract and retain quality candidates. Draft legislation looking to "find efficiencies" in school funding has proposed measures directly harming students, including increasing class sizes and reducing or eliminating funding for student activities. Conforming educa tion funding to the drastically reduced amount available in the wake of current and projected shortfalls without new revenue streams will directly harm Wyoming students. Fiction: Education hasn't "come to the table" to take cuts like other state agencies. Any cuts made to other agencies are immediately absorbed by education. Fact: Public education has taken more than $100 million in cuts since 2017. The Wyoming constitution clearly mandates that the state provide a high-quality, equitable education to all Wyoming students and that the legislature may not forego doing so because of budgetary insufficiencies. Fiction: Diversifying the economy will solve the funding shortfall threatening education. Fact: Diversifying the state's economy away from an overreliance on extraction industries is a step in t he right direction. But, diversification alone is not the answer. Wyoming must first reform its regressive tax structure to benefit from tax dollars generated from diverse industries flourishing in Wyoming. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE AND THE NEED FOR REVENUE 7

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