- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 3, 2015

RAWLINS, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming Department of Education officials are bracing for budget cuts as the state prepares for less revenue than expected amid low prices for coal, oil and natural gas.

Over the next three years, Wyoming officials predict the state will bring in $154 million less revenue for education than the amount previously forecast.

The department will be bound by Gov. Matt Mead’s plan to freeze hiring of state employees, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow told the Rawlins Daily Times (https://bit.ly/1Q8zPBW).

“We need to consider that we have invested a great deal in education,” Balow said. “But it’s time to reevaluate and figure out how to do more with less.”

Even so, she said she didn’t expect the quality of the services her department provides diminishing because of the budget constraints.

Wyoming revenue forecasters expect $600 million less revenue through 2018 compared with the amount they were predicting in January.

The education department derives its funding from two primary sources, the Wyoming School Foundation Program and money generated from coal leases. Coal-lease revenue also stands to fall off now that no new federal coal reserves are being leased.

Wyoming’s school districts also will need to look at budget cuts, Balow said. “As we move forward, it’s really about determining how to do the same work with less money and how to find efficiencies with what we are already doing,” she said.

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Information from: Rawlins (Wyo.) Daily Times, https://www.rawlinstimes.com

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