Albany County School District Board of Trustees Responds to Potential Budget Cuts from Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration

Letter From Select Committee

ACSD1 Response to Select Committee

LARAMIE, Wyo. – The Albany County School District Board of Trustees released their response to potential budget cuts proposed by the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration (Select Committee). The Select Committee asked the school district to consider possible budget cuts – 16 percent for the 20-21 biennium and 27 percent for the 21-22 biennium – and relay how the cuts would affect the performance of schools in the district.

In the attached letter, the trustees outlined their reasons why such cuts would render the school district unable to deliver quality education to students. The trustees also noted that the state needs to explore new options for raising funds instead of cutting them from the education budget.

“I want to highlight the first paragraph on the second page, which, again, puts to our legislators, that we have done the funding cuts, modernized the way the state allocates revenues, and now it is time to think about how to raise new revenues to support educational funding,” said Treasurer Karen Bienz.

The proposed cuts would mostly affect personnel in the district, meaning fewer teachers, fewer class options, and less instructional support for at-risk or struggling students. Additionally, support staff around the district, such as nurses, librarians, paraprofessionals, counselors, and custodians, would see losses.

“We had a discussion as a board and talked about how debilitating the legislature’s proposed funding cuts would be to our ability to, as a district, deliver a quality, constitutional education to the children of Albany county,” said Trustee Nate Martin. “Hopefully, the letter communicates to our legislative delegation and to the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration the dire nature of the consequences of what they’re looking at if they, as Treasurer (Karen) Bienz said, take the third leg of the stool and actually execute it. We’ve done the cuts, we’ve done the modernization of the revenue stream, and now all that’s left is new revenue.”

The trustees offered insight into possible new streams of revenue to be explored. In the letter, it is noted that Wyomingites pay no state income tax. Additionally, the state has the third-lowest residential property tax rate and sixth-lowest sales tax rate in the country. However, Albany County citizens have voted to tax themselves to raise money for education as recently as 2013, showing community support for funding education.

“When we had our school board retreat a couple months ago, we talked about the pending budget cuts,” said Trustee Lawrence Perea. “At the time, there were several board members who said it would be a good idea to keep our constituents and our employees and everybody abreast of the changing situations because we knew they were going to be pretty dire. I do believe that this is going to take a lot of pressure, not only from the school board, but also from constituents and parents, where these pending cuts can have a very negative affect on the education of our children in Wyoming and here in Albany County. I think this is a good step forward. We’ll continue to see how it unfolds.”

The Albany County School District Board of Trustees will have its monthly meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. The school board welcomes public comment during the section of the meeting entitled “Audience Communications,” and asks that community members register in advance by emailing by 3 p.m., on the day of the meeting.