Updated: Oct 4, 2020
When the Wyoming Supreme Court handed down its decision in the landmark school finance case known as Campbell III, the Court mandated that the legislature conduct a review to determine the necessary components of an adequate education and the cost associated with these components, every five years. This process is known as “recalibration.” Recalibration studies were conducted in 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2017. However, while this last recalibration study found that Wyoming’s school funding model was underfunding education by up to $90 million annually, no changes were made as a result of this study. Because the study was not mandated to be conducted in 2017, the legislature held that it was not required to adopt the findings, or make the necessary funding modifications recommended in that report. This year, however, a constitutionally mandated recalibration study is required and will be conducted, with the results available for the 2021 general session. As in years before, the Wyoming Education Association will continue to monitor the updates of the recalibration study and will have significant involvement in the process.
The recalibration study employs a multifaceted approach in analyzing each component of the funding model. The study begins by conducting an up-to-date literature review of all current research specific to the topic of inquiry. From there, it is determined how these methods are best implemented at the classroom level, taking into consideration the specific context of Wyoming classrooms. Then, the cost is calculated for securing and providing those resources. Case studies are also utilized to examine improving and/or high-performance schools to see how these best practices can be implemented in Wyoming classrooms. Finally, the recalibration study also utilizes six different professional judgment panels across the state, consulting with a variety of practitioners and experts in the field.
At the interim Management Council meeting earlier this year, WEA delivered public comment advocating that the study utilizes and consults with Wyoming educators, administrators, and paraprofessionals to truly understand how education services are delivered—not just in the state of Wyoming—but from region to region and school to school. The Wyoming Education Association recognizes that—while the methods that Picus, Odden and Associates employ to conduct the recalibration study are sound and yield high-quality results—it is vital that Wyoming educators be consulted throughout the process. Educators’ firsthand knowledge of Wyoming education is invaluable to a successful recalibration study and the implementation of any recommendation.
WEA President Kathy Vetter, Executive Director Ron Sniffin, and Government Relations Director Tate Mullen were recently called upon to consult with Picus, Odden and Associates regarding the recalibration study. WEA is proud to be considered an authority in education advocacy. Because of our diverse, engaged membership base, your Association is in a unique position to advocate for members' input to be of primary importance in developing recommendations as part of this year's recalibration study.
Moving forward, the Wyoming Education Association will continue to monitor updates from Picus, Oden and Associates on the recalibration study. WEA will continue to advocate that local educators be consulted throughout the process, and to inform members on opportunities to contribute your knowledge an expertise to the recommendations being drafted as a result of the recalibration study. Once the recalibration study is completed, WEA will work to ensure that the recommendations of the study are accurate and appropriate for the Wyoming education system.
The WEA lobbying team will continue to work diligently to ensure that the Wyoming State Legislature adopts all necessary recommendations to maintain the state’s compliance with our constitutionally mandated funding model.