Schools

University of Wyoming

For kids who have grown up using smartphones, navigating apps like google maps is second nature to them. But a new initiative from the University of Wyoming is trying to get 5-thousand tangible, paper atlases into the hands of students in every Wyoming school district. Jeff Hamerlinck is the director of the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center and was one of the co-editors on the atlas project. He joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard to discuss the project.

Screenshot via YouTube

Dean Kelly, the principal at Natrona County High School in Casper resigned Wednesday. The announcement of his resignation followed the news that several staff members were placed on leave for their participation in an inappropriate skit performed at the school.

The Natrona County School District released a video of the incident in question on Tuesday after a records request from the Casper Star-Tribune newspaper. The video and accompanying transcript were redacted to protect privacy.

A Wyoming Department of Health study says that the state’s teen birth rate has dropped every year for the last six years.

In 2008 Wyoming had about 50 births for every 1000 teen girls. That rate dropped to about 35 births in 2013. Some counties have seen even more dramatic decreases.

Two of the three Republican candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction say it should be left up to local school boards to determine if teachers or others can have guns in schools. Bill Winney was adamant that the issue should be decided locally.

“There’s something in me that says a teacher shouldn’t be standing in front of a classroom with a pistol on their hip…I got that. But that’s not the real point…the real point is the authority and local control of our school boards.” 

The Wyoming House of Representatives failed to introduce a bill that would have lifted restrictions on carrying guns in school zones, while agreeing to introduce another bill that would leave it up to school districts to decide whether employees with a concealed carry permit can have guns in schools.

Wyoming is getting more money from the federal government to improve its lowest-achieving schools.
 
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced today that Wyoming will get $1.1 million in 2013. It's the third year the state has gotten a grant from the department's School Improvement Grant Program.

Nine other states, including Colorado, are also getting money.
 
The department says states will distribute the money to school districts that demonstrate the greatest need for it and show a strong commitment to using it to improve student performance.

After rejecting the Senate version of the bill that would allow Wyoming to join a multi-state lottery, a conference committee has reached a compromise that supporters hope will get the bill to the governor. 

The House wants all revenue from the lottery to go to local government, but the Senate wants the money to go into a permanent account that’s used for schools. 

The compromise says that 6-million dollars goes to local government, while any money above that amount would go into the schools account. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a pair of gun rights bills with some key changes. 

The Committee reworked a bill that had been intended to threaten federal law enforcement officials with arrest if they tried to enforce federal gun bans in Wyoming.  The committee amended the bill to say that federal officials could carry out their duties, but that local law enforcement could not assist.  Still, the Wyoming Attorney General was given authority to protect citizen gun rights. 

The Senate Education committee killed a bill that would have allowed those with concealed weapons permits to carry guns in schools and on Wyoming College campuses.  The bill died after nobody made a motion to consider it.  A number of educators at all levels testified that the legislation was a bad idea and that such ideas should be left to local school districts to consider.  University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan testified that the allowing guns on campus could lead to problems.

While Wyoming Governor Matt Mead favors gun rights, he said that he is very concerned about a couple of gun rights bills making their way through the legislature. 

One bill would allow school employees, parents of a student or their guardian, who hold a concealed weapon permit, to have guns in schools.  Mead said that there are better ways to ensure school safety and he wants the state to look closer at those solutions.

The Wyoming legislature wraps up its second week today.  Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck is covering the session and joins us now to talk about lawmakers' attempts to restructure how the state's schools are governed.

A new Wyoming School Finance bill has been approved by the Legislature's Joint Education Committee, but it has its critics. 

The biggest concern is over a portion of the bill that is called the regional cost adjustment, which applies to salaries districts get and takes into consideration where a district is located. 

The committee has decided to shift to a new funding mechanism called the hedonic wage index, that will reduce what the state pays for salaries by about seven million dollars.