Public education in Wyoming

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The Wyoming public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards members and superintendents. Wyoming has approximately 48 public school districts.

The Wyoming state constitution requires that the legislature "suitably encourage means and agencies calculated to advance the sciences and liberal arts" because according to the constitution citizens have the right to "opportunities for education."[1] The legislature is additionally responsible for the "establishment and maintenance" of the public school system.[2]

School revenues, expenditures and budget

See also: Wyoming state budget
Wyoming's education costs are 39% of the state budget

The 2011-2012 biennium budget appropriations for education total about $2.95 billion, while the total appropriations for the year total $7.63 billion. In other words, education is approximately 38.67% of the total budget.[3] Wyoming is projected to have a minor budget gap of $31.8 million for FY 2010, but is in an enviable position compared to most states by having the needed budget reserves to deal with declining revenue estimates. At the same time, Gov. Dave Freudenthal advises maintaining a conservative fiscal approach noting there will not be pay raises for teachers and state staff as "the budget will basically be static."[4]

The cost per pupil is $13,840, the seventh highest the nation according the Census Bureau 2007-2008 report.[5]

Personnel salaries

According to reports in the 2008-2009 school year the state of Wyoming has an average teacher yearly salary of $54,591.04. The state of Wyoming has an average student-to-teacher ratio of 12.4 and an attendance rate of 94.1%. In 2008 enrollment for K-12 students totaled approximately 86,519 students, an increase of 941 students as compared to the 2007-2008 school year.[6]

School year Average annual teacher salary Student-to-teacher ratio
2006-2007[7] $50,691.81 13.14
2007-2008[8] $52,935.40 12.41
2008-2009[6] $54,591.04 12.4

Role of unions

The main union related to the Wyoming school system is the Wyoming Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA). For the 2003 tax period the union had: $2.09 million in total revenue, $1.99 million in total expenses and $1.13 million in total assets.[9][10]

Role of school boards

The State Board of Education is comprised of eleven member, all of which are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. The board of education is primarily responsible for establishing and adopting rules, regulations and standards for governing fiscal and procedural matters pertaining to public education.[11]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: Wyoming government sector lobbying

The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Wyoming School Boards Association.


Wyoming currently has no statewide, official spending database online, although legislation that passed in 2009 mandates that a public finance site be operational by no later than January 1, 2010.[12]

Academic performance

According to the Wyoming Department of Education of the approximately 48 school districts three were in "district improvement" in the 2009 school year. Progress is determined through the state assessment exam Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) exam. AYP is used by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program to determine the academic performance of schools. Laramie County School District One is in it's third year of district improvement, Natrona County School District One is in year two of improvement, while Sweetwater County School District is in year one. Uinta County School District, although not labeled as "in improvement" did face a warning this year.[13]

The chart below states the AYP status of each school district in the state of Wyoming. Click "show" to see the full list.

State Budget Solutions’ Education Study: “Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working”

State Budget Solutions’ examined national trends in education from 2009-2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study shows that states that spend the most do not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor do they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. Download the full report here: Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working.

See National Chart to compare data from all 50 states.

State Spending on Education vs. Academic Performance 2012

State 2011 Total Spending[14] 2011 Education Spending[15] 2011 Percent Education Spending 2012 Total Spending[16] 2012 Education Spending[17] 2012 Percent Education Spending 2010 Avg. ACT score[18] 2011 Avg. ACT score[19] 2012 Avg. ACT score[20] 2010 Graduation Rate[21] 2011 Graduation Rate[22]
Wyoming $8.6 billion $2.4 billion 27.9% $8.6 billion $2.5 billion 29.0% 20.0 20.3 20.3 75.8% 76.0

School choice

School choice options include:

  • Charter schools: Wyoming has a charter school law, however, as of the 2007-2008 school year the state had a total of 3 public charter schools. Wyoming has been described as having a "weak charter school law."[23]
  • Public school open enrollment: the state of Wyoming has one main open enrollment policy: intra-district. In other words, students are permitted to enroll in any school within their neighborhood school district.[24]
  • Online learning: Currently Wyoming does not have a state-led online program, however, according to a 2008 report the state is in the process of implementing a state-led initiative - the Wyoming Switchboard Network (WSN). The program will provide online courses to students in grades K-12.[25]

External links


  1. Wyoming Constitution,"97-1-023. Education," retrieved May 22, 2010
  2. Wyoming Constitution,"97-7-001. Legislature to provide for public schools," retrieved May 22, 2010
  3. Wyoming Department of Education,"2011-2012 Biennium State Budget," retrieved May 27, 2010
  4. Wyoming Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG), "Wyoming State Government Revenue Forecast Fiscal Year 2010 - Fiscal Year 2014," October 2009
  5. Maine Watchdog, Education Spending Per Child, July 6, 2010
  6. 6.0 6.1 Wyoming Department of Education,"Wyoming Education Summary 2008-2009," retrieved May 26, 2010
  7. Wyoming Department of Education,"Wyoming Education Summary 2006-2007," retrieved May 26, 2010
  8. Wyoming Department of Education,"Wyoming Education Summary 2007-2008," retrieved May 26, 2010
  9. Center for Union Facts,"Wyoming Education Association," retrieved May 22, 2010
  10. Center for Union Facts,"Wyoming teachers unions," retrieved May 22, 2010
  11. State of Wyoming,"Government - State Board of Education," retrieved May 22, 2010
  12. Wyoming House Bill 144, "Transparency in Government"
  13. Wyoming Department of Education,"2009 AYP Improvement Status District and School Summary," retrieved May 27, 2010
  14. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  15. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  16. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  17. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  18. 2010 ACT National and State Scores "Average Scores by State"
  19. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  20. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  21. National Center for Education Statistics
  22. National Center for Education Statistics
  23. The Heritage Foundation,"Wyoming school choice," retrieved May 22, 2010
  24. Education Commission of the States,"Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," retrieved May 22, 2010
  25. Keeping Pace,"Keeping Pace with K – 12 Online Learning: A Review of State-Level Policy and Practice (page 9)," retrieved May 22, 2010