Wyoming Superintendents Fight 'Top-Heavy' Label

Courtney Williams's picture
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wyoming school districts reversed "top-heavy" staffing in their central offices in 2010-11, according to a report released earlier this month by the Wyoming Department of Education.

Wyoming school districts employed 87 more central administrators than recommended by the state school funding model in 2010-11. Statewide, districts employed 153.5 central administrators over the model in 2009-10.

But districts didn't eliminate nearly 70 central office administrators and staff members in one year -- in most cases, the codes assigned to employees were changed to better describe their jobs.

Nearly all of the shift can be attributed to numbers reported by two school districts: Natrona County and Laramie County 1.

Districts submit a ton of data about staffing, employee salaries and class size to the Education Department, which is then released in the annual Continued Review of Educational Resources in Wyoming report. The report compares the self-reported numbers to staffing levels funded by the state school funding model, a student population-driven formula based on education research.

The report was annually reviewed by lawmakers but wasn't widely discussed until Gov. Dave Freudenthal chastised lawmakers for allowing districts to spend state money out of line with the funding model. Freudenthal highlighted Laramie 1 -- more than 30 administrative staff members over the model recommendations and more than 100 teachers under the model in 2009-10.

Districts didn't look too closely at the forms sent to the department before then, said Mark Stock, superintendent of Laramie 1. Stock said several employees were coded as working in the central office when they actually spent nearly all of their time in schools. Other job positions funded through the state but not the school funding model were also included in that higher count, Stock said.

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