By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A Cheyenne legislator has proposed cutting Wyoming’s school districts in half to save the state money.
Rep. Dan Zwonitzer recently introduced House Bill 77, which would cut the amount of Wyoming’s school districts in half, down from 48 to 24 (one per Wyoming county and one for the Wind River Reservation).
“My overall goal is not to impact teacher pay or put 35 kids in a classroom,” Zwonitzer told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “This won’t be the be-all, end-all solution, but if we could save 10% to 15% of our budget with this, that’s huge.”
The bill is co-sponsored by five other representatives and two senators, including Sen. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne. It was received for introduction last week and Zwonitzer expected it to be sent to committee sometime this week.
Zwonitzer said the idea behind the bill was to find a way to cut administration and transportation costs rather than reducing teacher salaries or the classroom experience.
“We might lose some administrators, but my thinking is that schools will be forced to find the same efficiencies that the state government has had to do over the last five years,” the representative said.
He pointed to Fremont County, which has eight school districts, and Uinta County, which has three, as prime examples of counties with too many school districts.
On the other hand, Natrona County only has one district and Laramie County has two. The two are the state’s largest counties by population.
“You shouldn’t have more school districts than you do legislators,” Zwonitzer said. “There’s no reason to have a school district with fewer than 1,000 kids. We’re losing 1% of the population every year, so it doesn’t justify having 48 school districts across the state.”
The Wyoming Education Association did not respond to a request for comment regarding the bill.