Who makes education funding decisions? The answer is both the legislature and local school boards. The legislature sends a block grant to local districts. The local school board then decides how many administrators it should have and how much to pay them. The local school board decides how many teachers it should have and their salaries. The same is true to librarians, nurses, maintenance, special programs, aids and clerks, instructional facilitators, activities, sports, and so on. All decisions about personnel, supplies, technology and transportation are made by the elected local school board.
The block grant from the legislature is based on a complicated model. Currently this model funds an average of $17,000 per student annually, more than 46 other states. The questions that comes to my mind are these: Does our increased funding produce better test scores compared to other states, and are we being as efficient as possible with taxpayer dollars in public education? These are fair questions.
According to a recent ranking (August 2018) by Wallet hub, the Cowboy state ranks 12th in the nation overall, coming in behind North Dakota (11th) and Colorado (10th). Neighboring state Nebraska took the 14th spot. This is based on 25 key metrics which includes ACT & SAT scores, math and reading scores, graduation rates, dropout rates, funding, etc. Wyoming is an above average place to learn.
By contrast, what have our neighboring states paid per pupil annually? North Dakota spends roughly $13,500/student, Colorado spends $9,500/student, and Nebraska spends $12,500/student according to Governing magazine. So are we being as efficient as possible with taxpayer dollars? The answer is we don’t know. The state legislature has hired consultants who have told us how much we should fund according to our model, but they haven’t told us how we could be more efficient.
One of the most important areas aside from prudently and efficiently managing taxpayer dollars is providing an effective and excellent public education at every school for every student. Without a doubt, we can’t be a great state without great schools. I’m committed to making learning more efficient, effective, and accountable.