Cindy Hill, Demoted Wyoming Education Chief, Requests Budget Increase Of Almost $4 Million

FILE - In this Oct. 12, 2010 file photo, Cindy Hill answers audience questions during a General Election Debate for Superinte
FILE - In this Oct. 12, 2010 file photo, Cindy Hill answers audience questions during a General Election Debate for Superintendent of Public Instruction at the Wyoming Union in Laramie, Wyo. In just over a year since becoming the state's top public education official, Hill is finding that the learning curve in managing a large government agency can be more challenging than in running a grade school. (AP Photo/Laramie Boomerang, Andy Carpenean, File)

A week after being stripped of her authority by the state legislature, elected Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill (R) is asking for an almost $4 million budget increase in order to perform her largely ceremonial functions.

Hill, a Tea Party favorite who has announced plans to run against Gov. Matt Mead (R) in the 2014 election, is seeking $6.2 million and a 15-person staff over the next two years, instead of the $2.3 million that Mead has recommended for the office, wyomingnews.com reports. Hill was running the state Department of Education until last week, when Mead signed legislation stripping her of the post and relegating her to more minor functions. Hill had received $2.6 million for the superintendent's office when it was part of the education department, reports the Casper Star-Tribune's website.

Among the funds Hill is requesting is more money to travel the state and to host teacher conferences in 2014. The Star-Tribune reports:

The conferences were cited as the reason Hill is seeking a tenfold increase in her travel budget.

Hill said the conferences and professional development workshops are important as education moves toward the national Common Core academic standards. She said she is hoping all 48 school districts will collaborate with her office.

"I believe it will work," Hill said. "We know we can work alongside the districts."

Hill, who was elected in 2010 based on her Tea Party support, had a series of run-ins with state legislators prior to being stripped of her power last week. Legislators have accused her of not implementing education reform laws, including a new testing program, along with mismanaging the education department -- claims that Hill denies. The superintendent post is established in the state constitution and will remain, albeit with new duties, including for Hill's successor. A Mead appointee will run the education agency.

Among Hill's new duties are writing an annual report on education, advising school districts about concussion prevention, devising guidelines for storing toxic chemicals in schools and running the teacher of the year program, along with positions on several boards. Legislators may assign her additional duties going forward.

Hill has filed a lawsuit seeking to restore her to the head of the education agency, with a hearing set for March 14.

She announced last week her plan to take on Mead in next year's Republican gubernatorial primary. Wyoming state Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne) told The Huffington Post at the time that her new duties will give her time to travel the state.



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