Tuesday was the first day of school for students in Wyoming’s largest school district—Laramie County School District One. But rapid population growth in parts of Cheyenne means some students can’t attend the schools in their neighborhoods.
About 170 elementary school students in eastern Cheyenne are no longer able to attend the school closest to their home. That’s after the District altered boundaries, responding to population growth in the area. Schools impacted include Saddle Ridge, Dildine, and Anderson Elementary. The students forced out of those schools are being bussed to other schools in the district.
The District’s David Bartlett says that’s the remedy required under the state school funding model, but there are more solutions to come.
“If we’re overfull in one school and we’ve got room in another, their expectation is that we would bus them there,” Bartlett says. “The second tier on that remedy would be, if it’s a longstanding issue, to adjust boundaries. And the third thing would be then, if we don’t have space in other schools across town, then they would look at other remedies such as to build a new school.”
In order to build a new school, the District would first have to be over capacity—then sit down with the Legislature to discuss options. Bartlett says state statute in effect prevents districts from planning ahead based on population projections.
“The system is almost set up to be reactive rather than proactive,” Bartlett says.
He says two elementary schools currently under construction should improve capacity issues in the District. He adds that he’s sorry for the students forced out of their neighborhood schools.