Wednesday night’s school board meeting is going to be a doozy.
The Teton County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees will make two big decisions during its regular monthly meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. The first is on the district’s fiscal year 2021 budget, and the second is on its Smart Start reopening plan.
The $55.8 million budget has been in the works since before the coronavirus pandemic, and it in large part reflects a pre-COVID reality. Spending and revenue are on par with what they would have been if the virus had never struck.
“The budget was developed based on the legislation that was passed during the last legislative session,” district information coordinator Charlotte Reynolds said.
Essentially, the state Legislature sets school funding during its budget session, so even though the coronavirus’ economic downturn decimated state coffers, school funding hasn’t decreased.
“Until we have new or updated guidance, it’s really difficult for us to create a whole host of alternative budgets,” Reynolds said.
The only way the school funding level could change is if the Legislature calls a special session. It has done so once since the outbreak began, but it hasn’t shown interest so far in calling a second one.
For Trustee Keith Gingery that means officials probably won’t decrease funding this year and will let districts go ahead with the budget planning they have already done. But that may not apply down the road.
“I think, potentially, there may be issues next year,” Gingery said.
But while the budget debate may not take COVID into account, the discussion about reopening schools certainly will. State Superintendent Jillian Balow recently released the Wyoming Department of Education’s Smart Start reopening plan, which gave districts a broad outline for what their plans should include.
Trustees already went over the plan once at a workshop, but this is the first time they will vote on the strategies for allowing children back into the buildings. The plan includes things like increased sanitation and contingencies for hybrid education.
During the reopening plan workshop, trustees expressed some reservations about reopening schools, so it’s hard to tell how the vote might go. Interested parties can watch the meeting online, though it is also open to the public in the district administration building next to the football field.
A link for the Webex broadcast of the meeting can be found at TCSD.org/board. Click on the Board Docs logo.