Consolidation not popular with lawmakers

(Photo from Sheridan Media files)

The issue of consolidating Wyoming’s 48 school districts came up during a meeting of Sheridan and Johnson county legislators and Sheridan County School District 2 trustees Monday night.

But the proposal appeared to lack support from at least a couple of lawmakers.

Senator Dave Kinskey, whose legislative district includes the Arvada-Clearmont area as well as a portion of Johnson County said consolidation, proposed as a cost-cutting measure, in fact doesn’t save a lot of money.

Kinskey said he has fought every single attempt at consolidation, because those school districts are rural Wyoming. He said the life of the community revolves around the Arvada-Clearmont schools.

Barry Crago, elected to his first term representing Sheridan and Johnson counties in the state House of Representatives, said the Arvada-Clearmont schools are in his district as well.

He said in Johnson County, Kaycee and Buffalo are both in the same school district.

Crago said he thinks consolidation would create some unintended consequences regarding the expectations of the smaller school districts. Currently, he said, he thinks School District 3 probably makes do with fewer offerings than are available in, for example, Sheridan County School District 2.

But if the smaller districts are consolidated with the larger ones, he said, the expectation is that students in the smaller schools would have access to everything that’s available to the students in the larger schools. He said that could end up costing more than any savings from consolidation.

He said in Johnson County, there was in fact a lawsuit because the students in Kaycee felt they were being under served.



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mark steingass
7 months ago

Consolidation works…corporations have used consolidation as a tool to save money for decades and decades…consolidation isn’t the only answer there other methods as well…job elimination through attrition & retirement is preferable…increasing class size is another method. There may be another source of income for the school districts as well…for example, the Wyoming Lottery has in the past and will in the future have unclaimed prize money for example, last year a “Lucky For Life” prize winner to my knowledge never came forth to claim his or her winning lotto ticket and no doubt there will be more unclaimed lotto prize money in the future. Legislators might start looking closely at what other states are doing in this regard of unclaimed lotto prize money. While some have called for a reduction of funding or elimination of school programs like football and basketball this should be entirely avoided as these programs are essential in the development of “our kids” Wyoming schools appear to be in good overall condition especially in comparison to schools around the USA but as coal, mineral and gas revenue decreases other methods of generating income need to be considered. The Wyoming legislature in co-operation lottery commission might also consider initiating additional potential gaming within the current lottery system specially earmarked and intended for school funding.