Volume 4, Number 31 - October 28, 2004
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No. 9: Nay on Amendment A
Sublette County School District No. 9 Superintendent Weldon Shelley and the board of trustees spoke out last week about Constitutional Amendment A, asking voters to reject the measure.
The passage of the amendment would eliminate a maximum on the amount of revenues rebated from school districts with assessed valuations exceeding statewide averages.
Only three school districts in the state would experience an immediate negative impact if voters pass Amendment A in November. Unfortunately, two of those districts are located in Sublette County, while the third is in Campbell County. These three mineral-rich districts are currently allowed to “recapture” a portion of their excess revenue when the revenue level exceeds a certain average amount per student. “Excess” revenue is defined as revenue in excess of what the state deems the school districts need.
This amendment, if approved by voters, would eliminate the recapture payments to Sublette County school districts No. 1 and 9.
Shelley said Wyoming citizens need to protect the constitution and need to understand the cause and effect of each amendment before voting to change something. He questioned: “Very little is really known about Constitutional Amendment A. Why is it needed? What are the advantages? What are the problems? How will the funding be used? Why is it needed at a time when the state revenues are so high?”
Shelley said statements that the recapture money would go to other districts aren’t true.
“I can assure you it will not,” Shelley said. “It will just stay in the state reserves.”
Shelley explained that state legislators believe that education is now adequately funded.
“The state already has over $2 billion in reserves,” Shelley said. “The average teacher’s salary paid in the state of Wyoming is 36th out of 50 states.
“The legislators will only increase education funding when they believe it is needed and they already have a large fund reserve available to them now without taking excess funds from the recapture districts, causing them to lose staff and cut salaries,” Shelley said.
Small districts across the state are being underfunded with the hope they will consolidate with a neighboring community and build larger schools, Shelley said. By having larger schools, the state can educate more students using less teachers, cutting the per-student cost of education. But in the end, the communities will lose population or cease to exist, he said.
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