This week the WDE appeared at Joint Appropriations Committee hearings to present the agency’s additional 8% cuts. Here is a recap of comments I made to the committee:
- Since taking office we have taken commensurate cuts with other agencies and made voluntary cuts to our budget and positions. Further cuts will be difficult.
- I am committed to doing my part to realize budget cuts and efficiencies and will bring attention to both our challenges and potential solutions.
- The WDE was staffed with 143 FTEs in 2015, we are at 130 FTEs today.
- My first priority as State Superintendent and CEO of the WDE is to provide expertise and support to school districts. I believe wholeheartedly that the most important decisions about education should be made at the local level. The WDE should serve as your #1 partner and support.
- Internally, we are finished restructuring WDE and we are set up to be lean and effective. We continue to collaborate and team to meet the needs of schools across the state.
- We maintain high standards for hiring new staff at WDE and seek the best employees to help reduce costs.
- We are utilizing our federally funded staff in new ways through innovative teaming and work on implementing ESSA.
- As a state we’ve made careful and research-based investments in education. Those investments pay off in big ways for our students. We have a strong infrastructure for a quality education for all students. I am nervous that the legislature will look for cuts with price tags that stand out – I caution us not to make decisions based on dollars but, rather, based on maintaining what we know is best for student outcomes and school success.
The Joint Health and Labor Committee met this week to discuss a number of Medicaid cost-saving measures. One recommendation was for schools to begin billing Medicaid for services delivered to eligible students. Wyoming is the only state not billing for said services. No vote was taken but I anticipate additional discussion and, possibly, an interim legislative study on the topic.
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS
****This is the last Friday update until 2017****
Memos will be sent on Mondays during the winter break observed by school districts
There are no memos this week.