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Top lawmaker: Consolidation of local schools won't happen

Dec 19, 2017 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

While K-12 public school officials in Fremont County have been concerned this fall that state legislators could get serious about consolidating school districts, Wyoming Senate President Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, said this week that consolidation won't happen.

"It doesn't save any money, and it doesn't make any sense in Fremont County," he said.

As Senate President, Bebout has significant power to determine which bills -- including those on education funding -- will get introduced in the coming budget session of the Wyoming Legislature that convenes in February.

Contradicts priorities

Terry Snyder, superintendent of Fremont County School District 25 in Riverton schools, said Friday that any consolidation of schools in Fremont County would work against what legislators on the Select Committee for Tribal Relations recently identified as educational priorities: The ability of schools on the reservation to promote local tribes' culture and languages.

Consolidation talk often focuses first on Fremont County, which has eight school districts -- double the number that any other county in Wyoming has, along with St. Stephen's Indian School, which is a federally supervised school within the boundaries of School District 38 (Arapahoe).

As part of a re-examination of the state's school funding model, a consulting firm was asked this year to consider whether consolidation of school districts would help save the state money.

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