Nonprofit Looks To Expand School Choice In Wyoming

Jan 27, 2016

As the nation celebrates “School Choice Week” this week, a Wyoming nonprofit is pushing a proposal to expand school choice in the state.

EdPref Wyoming has proposed an educational savings account and tax credit program that would give parents money for private school tuition or home school resources.

“In an education savings account, a low to middle-income family could apply to this fund, if they take their child out of public schools,” says EdPref board chair Meredith Adams. “And you would receive, in an account, 50 percent of what Wyoming would have spent on your child in the public schools—which would be about $8,000.”

The proposal says the accounts would be funded by oil and mineral industry donations. Those companies would then receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits on their severance taxes. Adams says the program would be a boon for Wyoming.

“The state was a whole would actually realize millions of dollars of savings,” says Adams. “We’ve taken $5 million dollars out of the revenue stream, but we’re going to eliminate almost $10 million dollars in expenses, because the students who participate in the program will be coming out of the public school system.”

School choice programs like vouchers and tax credit programs exist in a majority of states, but Wyoming has never had one.

Adams says she hopes lawmakers will study the educational savings account program in the next interim period, and someone would sponsor the legislation for next year’s legislative session.

Meanwhile, EdPref will host an event at the Laramie County Public Library in Cheyenne from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Friday—to showcase existing school options in the Cowboy State.