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A bill that would consolidate Wyoming's current 48 school districts into half of that number has been filed in the Wyoming Legislature.

You can read House Bill 77 here.

It's sponsored by Representative(s) Zwonitzer, Brown, Gray, MacGuire, Stith, and Wilson and Senator(s) Furphy and Hutchings. The bill lays out a process for consolidation that would include the appointment of a representative from each school district in the state to a planning committee as well as a series of public meetings across the state.

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The planning process would culminate in a plan for school district reorganization that would be in place by July 1, 2023. A fiscal note attached to the bill says the financial impact of the bill is not yet known.

Wyoming faces major education funding shortfalls in the coming years, and a bill that is slated for consideration by the 2021 Legislature when it reconvenes in March would cut school funding by $100 million.

The idea of consolidating school districts in Wyoming is not a new one.

In past years, supporters of the concept have argued that one problem with school funding in Wyoming has been that too much money is spent on administrators as opposed to classroom spending. They say consolidating districts would lead to less spending on administrative costs because of less duplication of administrative duties. and more money being made available for the classroom.

But opponents are concerned about a loss of local control of schools, especially in more rural areas.