Before Wyoming State legislators pass HB77, we sincerely hope they have done all of their homework.
HB77 is the bill sponsored by Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne) that would reduce the number of school districts in the state from 48 districts to 24 or less.
Wyoming’s Legislative Services Office says consolidation would save the state about $8.1 million, a tiny portion of what the state spends on educating K-12 students.
We hope the legislators proceed cautiously.
The consolidation the legislators are considering in the bill is not really consolidation in the true sense, but only consolidation of administrations.
In other words, it’s saving money by getting rid of a few school superintendents.
The real benefits of consolidation, monetarily and otherwise, would come from real consolidation, consolidating not only administration, but buildings and everything else associated with the change.
Consolidation definitely has both benefits and disadvantages, but they are nebulous. Monetary savings through efficiency of administration is just one of the reasons to consolidate.
Larger schools mean those districts will be able to provide more opportunities for extra-curricular activities, including additional sports programs and other activities such as orchestra, which are not available to students in smaller schools.
Consolidation can also allow school districts to provide training in technical areas not available in many smaller schools.
Not every student will be attending a university and a top-notch technical training program can provide students a means to a good living.
Many larger school districts throughout the U.S. and some in the area are providing training in computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM).
Students coming out of those high school programs are on track to land excellent paying jobs.
Consolidation of school districts is not necessarily a bad idea. Saving only $8.1 million by eliminating some superintendents will only save money. It is not a step towards making K-12 education in the state more efficient and productive.