Aaron Schrank

Education Reporter

Phone: 307-766-5064
Email: aschran1@uwyo.edu

Before joining WPR, Aaron worked as a freelance reporter in Los Angeles, where he earned a master’s degree in audio journalism from the University of Southern California. His radio work has aired on programs including NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, American Public Media’s Marketplace and Public Radio International’s The World. Aaron has roots in Phoenix, Arizona, Southern Illinois and New Jersey. When not reporting, he spends time hiking, camping, traveling and exploring film, music and food.

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School board members from across Wyoming met last week to vote on legislative priorities for the years ahead.

Wyoming School Board Association considered 22 resolutions. Many of those that passed addressed school accountability and funding.

Other resolutions include support for early childhood education efforts and stricter attendance policies. Association Executive Director Brian Farmer says the group’s calling to raise the mandatory school attendance age.

Michael Coghlan via Flickr Creative Commons

A new report finds the Cowboy State is a national leader in classroom internet connectivity. Wyoming is one of just two states to earn a 100 percent connectivity rating in this month’s report from the nonprofit EducationSuperHighway.

That means each of Wyoming’s 48 school districts provides 100 kilobits of broadband per student, which is a goal set by the Federal Communications Commission last year.

Wyoming Legislature


This week, the Legislature’s Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration recommended that the state stick with the same school funding model it’s been using for the past decade. That means school districts would get basically the same amount of money they have been getting.


The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees voted Friday to raise student tuition by 4 percent next school year. The move is in line with a policy adopted by the Board last year to review a possible increase like this annually.  

UW spokesman Chad Baldwin says the approved hike will generate $2 million in revenue.

Wyoming Public Media

On November 18, Aaron Schrank hosted a live Twitter chat with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. He posed questions about career readiness, as WDE recently created its Wyoming Career Readiness Council and is working to create a strategic plan to improve career readiness in Wyoming schools. The hashtag #WPREdTalk allowed for anyone to tweet questions.

Read through the Twitter chat below.

Aaron Schrank/WPR

After months of work, a legislative committee decided Tuesday not to make any changes to the way schools are funded. 

The Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration voted not to draft a new school funding bill, but to stick with the model the state has used for the past decade.

Department of Education

This Wednesday, November 18, from 5:45pm to 6:30pm, Aaron Schrank will be hosting a live Twitter chat with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. He'll be posing questions about career readiness, as WDE recently created its Wyoming Career Readiness Council and is working to create a strategic plan to improve career readiness in Wyoming schools.

On Twitter, use the hashtag #WPREdTalk. Anyone can tweet questions using that hashtag, and Aaron will be picking some of those questions to pose to the Superintendent.

Photo by Ikhlasul Amal, Flickr Creative Commons


Inside the home of the Williams family, in Centennial, Wyoming, it looks like a cross between a classroom and a call center. Five children, ages six through 16 are wearing headsets and staring at computer screens.

“Mom, what are we doing next?” yells 6-year-old Selah Williams.

“I think we’ll do reading,” says Liz Williams. “Do you want to get your storybook out?”

The Williams kids are full-time students at Wyoming Virtual Academy—or WYVA—one of two statewide virtual public schools in Wyoming. Liz says WYVA allows her to be more hands-on with their learning.

Flickr Creative Commons, Photo by 401kcalculator.org

Some community colleges in Wyoming are anticipating drops in state and local revenue, amid an oil and gas downturn.

Wyoming’s 7 community colleges receive about 60 percent of their funding from the state, 20 percent from local property taxes, and the other 20 from tuition.

While some colleges will see their local revenue impacted, Wyoming Community College Executive Director Jim Rose says the state has not announced it will cut any funding for community colleges.

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming is a step closer to finding a new President. The first committee involved in the search has approved a list of semifinalists for the job.

UW Trustees are keeping the names on that list private for now. They also would not share how many names are on it, but the original plan called for about 15 candidates.  

Trustee Jeff Marsh chaired the committee. He says they came up with a diverse pool, but there’s more work ahead.

Aaron Schrank

On September 26, six Native American high schoolers from the Wind River Reservation were visiting UW with 600 other prospective students for a weekend event called ‘Campus Pass.’ They planned to tour campus and watch a Cowboy football game.

“We got there in the morning, and we had some free time to go walk around and check things out, so we went to the campus bookstore,” says Kaleb Groesbeck.

Wikimedia Creative Commons

Campbell County School officials are considering whether junior high and high school students should start their school days later.

Many parents spoke out at a public meeting this week, saying the change would disrupt family routines.

Those students currently start their day at about 7:40 in Campbell County. But the American Academy of Pediatrics is calling on schools to push that back until 8:30 or later.

The District’s public relations director Jeff Wasserburger says the local school board is still in the discussion phase.

Two Wyoming groups have started a petition urging lawmakers to pass a hate crimes bill in the state.

Hate crime laws impose tougher penalties on criminals who target their victims because of things like the victim's race or religion. Wyoming is one of just five states that does not have one.

The Wind River Native Advocacy Center and Wyoming Association of Churches are gathering signatures. They say their efforts are in response to the July shooting of two Northern Arapaho men by a white Riverton parks employee at a local detox center. One man was killed in that attack.

Wyoming wants to replace its standardized tests with something new, and lawmakers met in Casper Thursday to hear recommendations from a statewide testing task force.

The group presented before the Legislature’s Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability. The final task force report calls for end-of-year testing in third through 10th grade that takes up no more than one percent of class time. They want a test that can be taken online and is offered in more than one state.

Results for the nationwide assessment known as the Nation’s Report Card were released Wednesday. Wyoming’s scores are consistent with how students here have done in years past.

The National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP) is a federal program that tests a sample of fourth and eighth graders in reading and math every two years.

Flickr Creative Commons via Jacob Edward

Wyoming does not do a great job teaching students how to manage their money, according to an annual report card released this month by Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy.

Wyoming earned a ‘D’ grade on its efforts to produce high school graduates with financial literacy skills. Wyoming does not require any specific personal finance classes for graduation and the state’s content standards don’t address the area much either.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

Listen to the full show here.  

Wyoming's Revenue Picture Will Lead To A Lean Budget

The Consensus Revenue Estimating group or CREG will release its much-anticipated revenue forecast on Tuesday. Wyoming’s revenues are expected to drop 500 to 600 million dollars, which means legislators will have a lot less money to spend compared to the last budget. 

Aaron Schrank

Most people on the Wind River Reservation have seen Craig Ferris on the sidelines of the basketball court at Wyoming Indian High School. As head coach, he’s led the Chiefs to four state championships. But most days, Ferris can be found driving around and knocking on doors—putting the full-court press on a major problem for reservation schools: attendance. Ferris works for Wyoming Indian Elementary. Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank spent a day on the job with him, and has this report.


A State Board of Education task force report is calling for a standardized testing system that better aligns with Wyoming’s content standards. It also recommends that Wyoming adopt a test that is used by more than one state, to allow for more comparison.

Wyoming is looking at replacing its current year-end test, PAWS, with something new. The task force has met 7 times since June to study testing needs.

The group wants a unified testing system for third through 10th grade, rather than PAWS for grade-schoolers and the ACT in 11th grade.

Aaron Schrank

Inside a Casper art gallery, a few dozen teachers are seated in a circle, listening to a presentation chock-full of teambuilding buzzwords.

This is a “design camp” for Natrona County’s new academy-based learning center. These educators get together weekly to plot a reinvention of the high school experience for kids in Casper.


“When we open our school, it’s going to be the first time for a whole new way of learning,” says Bryan Aivazian, a coach at one of four career academies that will be housed in the new center, which opens in one year.

The Jackson Town Council and Teton County Board of Commissioners agreed to a draft housing action plan for the community this week, following a 3-day summit.

The 80-page plan will need to be approved by a vote at a joint meeting November 2. Under the plan, the county and town will work together on housing issues with a joint Town-County Housing Director.

The Teton County Housing Authority will be restructured to allow for joint control with the town of Jackson. It will remain a quasi-governmental agency, but its scope and focus will be significantly reduced.


As Wyoming faces declining revenue, lawmakers revising the funding model for the state’s K-12 schools are facing some tough decisions. The model determines how much money each school district will get.

Wyoming’s per-student funding is among the highest in the country. Lawmakers on the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration Committee say dwindling funds may cause the state to hold the line on education spending.



A University of Wyoming report found that race was not a factor when University police detained a group of Native American students from St. Stephens High School in the campus bookstore last weekend.

The students were there as part of a campus-visit day for students. A customer in the bookstore told employees there she suspected one student of shoplifting, and described the t-shirt he was wearing.

Ted Dawson via Facebook.

Jackson Hole High School is getting some national attention for excluding something called “America day” from its homecoming festivities this year.

School administrators are defending and clarifying their decision—which drew protest from students and even garnered a reprimand from cable TV’s Fox & Friends.

“America day was never canceled,” says the school's activities director Mike Hansen. “It was never something that had been planned.”


Administrators from St. Stephens High School on the Wind River Reservation say their students’ rights may have been violated when a group of them were searched by University of Wyoming employees while browsing the campus bookstore.

UW officials say they are currently investigating the incident.

Ten seniors from the school visited UW last weekend as part of a program called “Campus Pass.” It allows high schoolers to check out the University’s resources and attend a Cowboys football game.

Wyoming Public Media

Tonight at 8:00 pm, Wyoming PBS will broadcast ‘Steps To Success For Wyoming’s Native American Students,’ a co-production with Wyoming Public Media.

For information on where to find Wyoming PBS in your area, click here. You can also be part of the discussion online. Share your questions and comments throughout the broadcast on Twitter, using the hashtag #WindRiverEducation.