Wyoming Education Association

Summer 2019

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/1133200

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Legislative Action 3 WEA Protects High- Quality School Buildings By Tammy Johnson The WEA strongly objected to a proposal to eliminate the requirement for the state to conduct suitability studies to determine if school buildings have the infrastructure to provide a high-quality education. This suggestion occurred last November during the School Facilities Commission meeting. WEA, utilizing our legal services, sent a letter to the Select Committee on School Facilities raising our objections. WEA wrote, "The Commission has essentially abandoned the concept of educational suitability. The Wyoming Supreme Court explained: "Educational suitability identifi es the degree to which a facility is suitable for the educational program being off ered." That requirement is that not only must buildings be physically sound, they also must have everything necessary to allow presentation of the full "basket of goods" with equal opportunities for all. The result of repealing the old rules and adopting new rules is to exclude any serious evaluation of existing buildings for educational suitability." The School Facilities Commission, under the guidance of the School Construction Department, was lead to believe that it could abandon generating and applying a suitability score when evaluating the replacement schedule for Wyoming school buildings. In early June, Legislative Service Offi ce attorneys agreed with WEA and affi rmed that suitability must be calculated, and the state must change the calculation to comply with the law. Because suitability is complicated to defi ne, the School Facilities Department (SFD) claimed that it was an "outdated and archaic" method for evaluating schools. After WEA objected to the abandonment of the suitability score, the School Facilities Commission voted to keep suitability in the calculation. Schools will now receive suitability scores, and many scores will be recalculated based on a new formula. Because the space a child learns in is intrinsic to the education being delivered, aging buildings will be reconsidered for replacement instead of "asset preservation." This is a huge victory for our students, and a result of the work of our legal and lobbying teams. When the Select Committee on School Facilities meets in mid-June, WEA's position that every Wyoming student has a safe and suitable place to learn will be recognized as the legal standard that the state must follow. Last fall, WEA fought to keep educational suitability in the state formula for grading the quality of schools. The Legislative Services Offi ce will be informing the committee that the current and past methods for calculating educational suitability of school buildings violate Wyoming law, and must be rewritten and adhered to. Explore WEA's New Legislative Aff airs Blog, Bringing you Real-Time Updates Throughout the Interim! The 2020 Budget Session doesn't kick off until February 10, but WEA is always hard at work advocating for the policies that most positively impact Wyoming's public schools and keeping members informed about the legislation that impacts your classrooms. Interim committee meetings are now underway. Be sure to check out the new WEA Legislative Aff airs Blog for information and updates, on work being completed in the interim. WEA Government Relations Director, Tammy Johnson will be providing real-time updates on interim progress, as well as providing information on upcoming meetings, agendas, and more. Visit www.wealegislativeinfo.com/blog to explore information on June' s upcoming Joint Education Interim Committee meeting.

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