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Select Committee on School Facilities discussed how to distribute funds for school facilities in the coming years

Meadow Lark Elementary School (Eve Hamilton, Cap City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — A Select Committee on School Facilities-sponsored bill for state funds investments and distributions failed to become law, and the funds will now be moved into the 2022 budget bill.

The committee met in Casper to discuss funding for various school facilities in the state, and it discussed the failed bill. The bill would have codified the process for the state auditor to move funds within the School Lands Mineral Royalty Account and the School Major Maintenance Subaccount within the Strategic Investments and Projects Account.

Without the bill, the funds revert to the 2022 budget.

The Wyoming Legislature appropriated $245.4 million in state funding for K-12 capital construction at $86.4 million and major maintenance at $159.0 million for the FY 2023-2024 biennium through the 2022 budget bill, as well as appropriated $12.1 million to the State Construction Department for the operations, engineering, and technical tasks carried out by the Department and the School Facilities.

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The Select Committee on School Facilities is the legislative body that oversees the School Facilities Commission, which is responsible for funding facility maintenance.

In the past month, Laramie County School District 1 has been fielding parent and teacher concerns about the conditions of its facilities. The district is considering possible legal action against the School Facilities Commission to ensure equitable funding.

Trustees discussed the possible litigation Monday, June 6, during their regular board meeting following months of parent complaints about the conditions of some campuses in the district.

Andy Knapp, executive director of support operations, has met with the board as well as parents to raise awareness of where facility maintenance and construction funding comes from, namely the School Facilities Commission.

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Knapp told Cap City that the State of Wyoming is legally obligated to fund all the school facilities in the state to ensure equity. However, there has not been an inspection of the Laramie County School District 1 schools in six years. Knapp also said that with Laramie County having 15 out of the 100 oldest schools in the state, there is a great need for state inspections and funding for school replacements.

As facilities director, Knapp is aware of the discontent among parents and students regarding the district’s buildings, but the money to get the issues fixed must come from the state. His suggested solution: “Go to your legislators and get them to advocate for you.”

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