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New School Year Means New Buildings For Some Students

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Wyoming students are heading back to school—and many will be welcomed into brand new buildings. The state is kicking off the school year with about $70 million in new education facilities—from a new elementary school in Casper to a new high school in Rock Springs.

Since 2002, Wyoming has put more than $3.5 billion into building and maintaining schools

School Facilities Department Director Bill Panos says this is the highest level of spending on school construction in Wyoming’s history.

“The state of Wyoming spends more per capita on public school facilities than any other state in the United States,” says Panos. “It’s been that way for a number of years—and I think that’s a reflection of the commitment that both the administration and the Legislature have towards education.”

This school building boom has been a direct result of the state’s energy boom. The vast majority of the state’s school construction fund comes from coal lease bonuses.

Those bonuses are going to dry up in the next two years, and it will be up to state leaders to determine a new way to fund school facilities.

Panos says he’s not worried.

“I’m confident they’ll be able to sort of figure it out,” says Panos. “It certainly is a challenge in this energy-based economy that we live in, but they have been able to overcome these challenges before and I’m confident that they will be able to do that as well, and we’ll be able to move forward.”

Panos says he’s expecting less spending in the years ahead, as the Department shifts focus from building new schools to maintaining existing ones.

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