School District Public Forum Focuses on Budget Cuts
Written by Andrew-Rossi on March 16, 2017
Concerned parents, students and citizens gathered at Wynona Thompson Auditorium yesterday evening in Cody to discuss proposed cuts to the Park County School District 6 budget.
School board members and staff were present at the public forum, which included a half hour presentation by superintendent Ray Shulte. Shulte pointed out that the bulk of the district’s available funding comes from a block grant that is a combination of state and local funding and totals between 30 and 31 million dollars per year. However, much of that is dependent on student enrollment, which has been declining in recent years.
Shulte presented proposed changes to the current budget that will accommodate the cuts required by the state legislature due to the severe funding deficit for the k-12 budget. The district is required to cut over a million dollars in the next year – which means that summer school next year may not exist; the instructional facilitator program will be cut in half; library services will be condensed along with tech support; and activity fees for high school and middle school will increase.
A dozen people spoke at the forum on behalf of programs they felt were in danger of losing funding, including the swim program, journalism and elementary art – but the vast majority of speakers were there to defend the district’s gifted and talented program, or Gate program. One of the parents was Brad Bonner, whose sentiments echoed those of other parents and students who spoke.
Others who spoke on behalf of the Gate program described the difference it has made in their lives and the lives of their children, noting in some cases that the reason their child is still in the public education system is because the Gate program allowed their child to engage in school on a level they could relate to.
Shulte ended the meeting by noting that the board and staff had difficult decisions ahead of them, but expressed his confidence in the quality of education that their schools will continue to provide, despite a reduction in funding.