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WDE Grants Waivers to K-3 Class Size Mandate

(Buffalo Ridge Elementary School/Courtesy of LCSD#1)

Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) Interim Director Jim Rose granted waivers to each of the 22 school districts that applied for waivers from the state-mandated 16:1 student-to-teacher ratio in grades K-3 for the 2012-13 school year.

Rose said “the districts just don’t have the space to accommodate the additional faculty and classes. Some districts have hired additional staff, they are assigning staff, they are using space that wasn’t independent classroom space before. Every district is responding in their own way, but by-and-large this is a capacity-driven issue”

According to Wyoming Statute 21-13-307 (a)(iv), passed by the Wyoming Legislature in 2011, school districts in Wyoming shall provide evidence to the Director of the WDE that their district has maintained an average student-to-teacher ratio of not greater than 16:1 in kindergarten through third grade. Title I and other federally funded teachers are not to be included in the 16:1 ratio. Federal funds are to be used to supplement, not supplant, a district’s obligation to provide a 16:1 ratio.

The Director of the Wyoming Department of Education can waive the 16:1 requirement for any district that demonstrates insufficient school facility capacity, positive school performance, positive student achievement or for other reasons related to the delivery of the education program to students.

According to state law, districts seeking a waiver from the 16:1 mandate are statutorily required to apply for the waiver no later than March 15. Rose said members of the WDE evaluated the waiver applications, verified the data provided to the WDE by districts and provided letters of approval by April 10.

School districts that do not either achieve the 16:1 student-to-teacher ratio or receive a waiver from the Director of the WDE are not eligible to share in distribution of funds from the school foundation account. In the two years since the 16:1 mandate was passed, all schools which have requested a waiver have received a waiver.

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