Jackson School Debate Moves To The Senate Floor

Jan 17, 2019

Credit Wyoming Legislature

A bill that would have taken away local zoning policies when it comes to private schools was changed to place private facilities on equal footing with public schools.

The Senate Education Committee passed the bill 4-0 after Teton County officials complained that the original legislation took away local control, while Steve Friess of the Jackson Hole Classical Academy said the county was putting up roadblocks to keep his new school from being built.

Some in Jackson were also concerned that this was special legislation to help the son of former gubernatorial candidate Foster Freiss. Laramie Senator Chris Rothfuss said the issue isn't whether the school is good or bad, but whether it's being treated like public schools. Which is what the bill now requires.

"We really have to make sure that these private schools in regards to zoning and with regard to regulation have to be on equal footing to the public schools. And we provide pretty significant allowances to public schools when it comes to zoning, so the fact that these private schools were running into massive hurdles, that's inequitable," Rothfuss said.

Rothfuss and other lawmakers were working to clarify how counties would manage this before the bill gets debated on Friday.

The County Commissioners Association has not taken a position on the legislation, but expressed some concerns during the hearing.