As legislators in Cheyenne get closer to crafting a solution to Wyoming’s education funding deficit, Cody School District officials are preparing for the inevitable cuts that will come once the legislation is finalized.

Ray Schulte, Cody Schools superintendent, asked district principals to come up with two sets of cuts, one if the district is forced to reduce its budget by $1 million, another if the district has to slash spending by $2 million.

The district now operates on a budget of $31 million. The $2 million reduction is Schulte’s estimate of the hit Cody will take if the state cuts funding for public schools by $100 million. Schulte also said that Cody might have to take a bigger hit if the legislation shields smaller districts from cuts and requires bigger districts to shoulder a larger share of the burden.

On Tuesday, Rep. David Northrup of Powell, the House Education Committee chair, said legislation that was on its third reading in the House would cut funding by $85 million.

District principals presented their proposed cuts to the Cody School Board Tuesday evening.

Valley and Wapiti schools have already reduced expenses to the point where any additional cuts would require closing the schools, an option that Schulte said wouldn’t save the district any money.

At the elementary level, principals worked together to find cuts across all three schools totaling $300,000.

To meet this target the gifted and talented program, or GATE, at all three schools would be eliminated, as would three certified teaching positions. The positions cut wouldn’t be classroom teachers, but instead would be “success positions,” teachers who provide additional instruction for struggling students. One paraprofessional would also be eliminated, as would a librarian position.

One certified librarian now oversees the elementary schools, while another is in charge of the middle and high schools. The cut leaves one librarian to oversee all five schools. There are also five paraprofessionals who work in the libraries.

“To find the amount of money needing to be cut, it’s not going to be found in supplies,” said Jay McCarten, Sunset Elementary principal.

If the district is required to cut $2 million, the elementary schools would also cut two more paraprofessionals in the computer lab for all three schools, the art program would be eliminated, as would a classroom teacher.

First grade has the lowest enrollment of the elementary grades, so that might be where the cut comes.

The middle school would have to cut $225,000 to meet a potential $1 million reduction. To get there the GATE program would be cut, along with a classroom teacher and a certified teacher working in the success program. Also, $17,000 would be cut from the activities budget.

The classroom teaching position to be cut – one of 28 at the school – has not been identified.

If a $2 million cut is required, the school would have to eliminate up to two more teaching positions and the activities budget would take an

additional cut. The supply budget would also be reduced by $19,000.

At the high school, $250,000 would need to be cut to cover the projected funding deficit. That means eliminating one language arts teacher. That could turn the journalism program – consistently Wyoming’s best – as well as the yearbook into a club.

The gifted and talented program would be cut by $53,000, after school study hall would be cut by $10,000 and activities would be reduced by $97,000.

Under the present funding model the state provides $400,000 for activities at the high school, but district spending on activities is double that, at $804,000.

If proposed cuts come back from the legislature at $2 million, the teacher supply budget would be reduced by up to $15,000, two teaching positions would be eliminated in math, science or career technical education, and activities would take another $100,000 hit.

No decisions have been made on what activities will take a cut.

“We don’t know our number, if it’s $1 million, $2 million, $500,000,” said Jeremiah Johnston, Cody High School principal. “If you start throwing things out there, everyone comes in to argue for that particular thing. You don’t want to see anything go, but we do offer a lot.”

District departments also presented proposals to meet potential funding cuts.

The district technology department would save $25,000 by cutting classroom instruction as well as leaving a director level position unfilled. One staff position would also be cut.

Provided more reductions are required, an additional staff position would be cut, though a service provider would then have to be hired to mitigate the loss.

Curriculum and instruction would cut spending on software and supplies as well as the program Read 180. Additional cuts would be made to textbooks, supplies and software should the district need to cut $2 million.

Maintenance would reduce spending upwards of $50,000 (to hit the $2 million target) by cutting back on custodial services and eliminating overtime. In order to cut energy costs, LED lights would replace current lights.

The central office would save $10,000 by trimming travel for the school board and superintendent, along with equipment, fees, supplies and some food services to meet the $1 million target. Should they have to make deeper cuts, food services would lose another $11,000 and support services would be cut.

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