What Does It Cost? An Analysis of Annual Statewide Expenditures for Vocational Education in Wyoming. Wyoming Education Finance Issues Report
Reversing earlier trial court rulings, in February 2001, the Wyoming Supreme Court directed the state to modify its school finance formula to account for the actual cost districts face in providing vocational education. Currently, school districts in Wyoming are funded using a cost-based block grant model that provides districts with sufficient resources to deliver a legislatively specified “basket” of education services. Asserting that the block grant could penalize schools with extensive vocational programs, the Court directed the state to compute total district expenditures for vocational teachers and equipment, to include this amount as a line item in a revised block grant allocation formula, and to fund districts accordingly.
To quantify state expenditures for vocational education, Management Analysis & Planning Inc. (MAP) contracted with MPR Associates—an independent education research and policy firm based in Berkeley, California—to analyze state fiscal data maintained by the Wyoming Department of Education. A review of this information indicated that additional data were needed to calculate district spending; accordingly, in June 2001, MPR researchers electronically surveyed district superintendents within each school district offering secondary vocational services. Local administrators were asked to voluntarily review and update their expenditure data for the 1999–2000 school year and submit new information for 2000–01. Case study site visits were also conducted at a subset of districts, selected based on their size and intensity of vocational services, to provide qualitative information on district operations.