Earlier this week, I had an opportunity to greet members of the Wyoming Association of School Business Officials (WASBO) during their spring meeting. What an outstanding group of education leaders! Here are a few points from my remarks:
- The staff at WDE consistently demonstrates professionalism, expertise, and commitment in all they do–they are amazing! We know our success depends on our ability to partner with you–our school districts are essential team members!
- Since taking office in 2015, WDE has lost over 10% of our staff due to budget reductions. Almost every line item in our general fund and foundation budgets has been reduced, totaling millions. We will continue to meet our core and critical mission of supporting school districts and we are grateful to have you as partners.
- As the legislative session winds down, we have seen a spectrum of solutions that attempt to address the education funding shortfall—everything from raising taxes 5%+ so no cuts are needed to fundamentally changing the way education funding is prioritized. This spectrum of ideas underscores the crisis and has every Wyoming legislator invested in the challenge. No matter what funding legislation makes it to the “finish line” I think we can count on recalibration commencing almost immediately after the session. This is where you come in.
- It is critical that education leaders, superintendents, board members, business managers, and others come to the table with solutions that are incremental and truly address the enormity of the shortfall.
- Aside from funding, there is important legislative and policy work moving Wyoming education forward.
- The U.S. Department of Education has formally directed state superintendents to continue moving forward with assertive timelines for ESSA implementation.
- As changes related to Title funding formulas and programs are analyzed by our staff we will communicate that to you, the districts. We don’t anticipate state allocations changing but may see changes in formulas for local districts.
Only in Wyoming
Yesterday was the 100th birthday of the Smith-Hughes Act which created Vocational Education, now known as Career and Technical Education, or CTE. Earlier in the day, our CTE supervisor, Guy Jackson, bumped into the Senator at the bakery and invited him for cake. And, in a tale fit for Wyoming, Senator Enzi stopped by WDE to help us celebrate. Senator Enzi is a champion for education and CTE and we thank him dearly for visiting and for his work!
ESSA State Plan
I shared with WASBO members and others this week that Wyoming is moving forward with our ESSA state plan and full implementation of the new law. The timeline is assertive but we owe our teachers and students a finalized ESSA plan by the beginning of school year 2017-18. There are multiple areas within the state plan that need to be developed or articulated including our standards, assessments, accountability, federal dollars, alignment of local and state reform efforts, professional development, innovations, partnerships, and more. No decision is made unilaterally or in a vacuum. Thank you for your continued willingness to participate in the process along with many other stakeholders in Wyoming education. We have many strengths to leverage and we are doing just that. Please visit our website for more information, updates, and drafts.
Memos to be released: