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School Facilities Department Requests Modest Budget Increase

The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee has approved a modest budget increase for the state agency responsible for building and maintaining Wyoming’s K-12 schools.

The State had given the School Facilities Department nearly $430 million dollars for school construction in 2015 and 2016. In a supplemental budget request, the agency asked for $21 million additional dollars to account for inflation, unanticipated costs and health and safety projects.

Director Bill Panos told lawmakers his agency has worked to decrease the size of its request—compared to past years.

“In 2011, we requested $183 million dollars in our supplemental request,” said Panos. “In 2013, we requested $209 million. And in 2015, this year, we’re requesting approximately $21 million in additional funds. We listened.”

Panos says part of the reason for the decrease is that the agency was better able to keep its projects under budget this year than in years past.

Select Committee on School Facilities Chairman Senator Bill Landen said the state has spent billions building schools in recent years—and must now focus on maintenance—which is less costly.

“25 million square feet of buildings out there—many of which have been put on the ground in the last 5 to 6 to 8 years,” said Landen. “How do we take care of them? Now that we’ve got them, how do we take care of them?

The School Facilities Department expects its expenditures to drop in the years ahead—as new construction slows.

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