ROCK SPRINGS — The Sweetwater County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees want a little more time to consider its recommendation to the state legislature about the financial crisis facing the district.
After four meetings with the 42-member Cost Savings Task Force charged with finding ways to avoid more cuts in the district, the board recommended a one-penny sales tax increase with revenue dedicated to K-12 funding for the next fiscal year and beyond.
A letter was drafted and a motion made to approve the recommendation during a special board meeting Wednesday night. However, the board opted to pull the motion when several trustees stated the letter didn’t adequately address the dire situation in SCSD No. 1.
Board Trustee Max Mickelson said he’s “tired of people willing to live for ideology and not reality.”
It is dishonest and reckless to continue the false narrative that any tax is bad and unacceptable.SCSD No. 1 Trustee Max Mickelson
During the public comment portion of the meeting, a number of community members disagreed with raising taxes as many families are struggling to put food on their tables due to COVID-19 job layoffs. Others suggested across-the-board administration salary cuts to reduce costs.
Human Resources Director Nicole Bolton addressed the board with a harsh reality should the district be forced to cut another 10% from its budget. She said the district has been cutting programs and staff for the last several years, “and these kind of proposed potential cuts will equate to having to close three to four schools.”
She added that cutting administrators’ salaries, reducing staff or employee benefits across the board would come nowhere close to addressing the potential $8 million shortfall the district faces in the next several years.
“The reality is, we can no longer cut our way out of this.”SCSD No. 1 Human Resources Director Nicole Bolton
Trustee Matt Jackman said the drafted letter failed to address all the issues facing the district. The task force proposed 82 recommendations to save money, but Jackman said the letter only mentions a few of them.
He added it would “get a better message across” by sharing the real impacts these cuts will have on the community with the Wyoming Legislature.
Board chairwoman Carol Jelaco said the board drafted the letter so quickly because the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration planned to meet on December 14-15. She said the committee has since moved its meeting to December 21-22, and that would give the school board additional time to provide more insight to the letter.
“The passion that you spoke with here tonight, please share that with us in your comments and your remarks,” Jelaco said.
The entire Cost Savings Task Force can be found on the school district website. Jelaco asked the trustees to submit their comments to her by next Monday. The board plans do have a revised draft ready to vote on by its next regular monthly meeting on December 14.