Wyoming legislator resurrects bill to shift school construction to local level

January 24, 2019 | Casper Star Tribune

Sen. Charlie Scott is again proposing that individual school districts shoulder the responsibility of building new schools, as state leaders continue to search for a way to fill the funding gap left by the loss of coal lease bonuses.

In a bill nearly identical to one he sponsored last year, the Natrona County Republican is backing a constitutional amendment that would require the state’s 48 school districts to raise funds from within their own communities — via bond issues or other sources — to fund school-related construction. The move would shift the burden away from state coffers, which have shouldered it since a state Supreme Court decision in 2001.

Since that case, one of the four Campbell County decisions that radically reshaped how Wyoming funds its education system, the state has relied heavily on coal lease bonuses to fund more than $2 billion in school construction. But in the wake of the recent bust, which saw the last of the coal lease bonus monies, lawmakers have been searching for a replacement.

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