SHERIDAN — Sheridan County School District 1 shouldered the same half-million-dollar cut this year that Sheridan County School District 2 did, although its total budget is just less than a third of the larger district’s.
And to deal with that cut, SCSD1 eliminated seven full-time positions — four teachers and three staff. None of the remaining district employees will receive a raise this year.
The district also made changes to its staff travel program, reimbursing for mileage now, rather than maintaining a fleet of cars for employees to use.
The cost-cutting measures were necessary after the Wyoming Legislature made across-the-board cuts in March to bring spending in line with drastically reduced state revenues. SCSD1 also took hits in enrollment-related funding and in cost of living funding.
Looking ahead to next year and the 1.4 percent cut districts are slated to take, Superintendent Marty Kobza said district officials are worried.
“Well, to be quite honest with you, the 1.4 percent cut is going to hurt very badly,” he said, adding that any cuts greater than that would eat into the district’s core programming.
“I mean, there’s nothing left, except to increase our class sizes beyond what our communities and our parents expect,” he said. “Or to eliminate entire programs within the district.”
Budget projections for the district show a $1 million shortfall for next year, based on current funding expectations.
But Kobza was hopeful that the state’s fiscal woes would take a turn for the better, citing natural gas and oil prices that are higher now than when the state made its most recent revenue projections.
“So we’re optimistic that the revenue picture for Wyoming won’t be as bleak as what’s been painted by our Legislature,” he said.
The district will know more in October when the state releases new projections.
Enrollment could also provide a boost to the district’s budget books. While numbers are down slightly this year, the district just pre-enrolled the largest kindergarten class it’s ever had, and the 2016 graduating class was relatively small. Higher enrollment means more per-pupil funding from the state.
In other news:
• The district was awarded a $100,000 grant through the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to expand early childhood opportunities. In the past, these efforts have included parenting classes and a preschool cooperative.
• The district also received a $15,000 grant from the Wyoming Department of Education to research the feasibility of a language immersion program at the elementary level.
• The district will host three public meetings regarding future use of the old Tongue River Elementary building. (Students will move into their new building in August.) Those dates and locations are: Aug. 2 at the old TRE, Aug. 10 at the old TRE and Aug. 11 at Big Horn High School. All meetings will begin at 7 p.m.