A photo from the dedication of the new Lander Middle School in August 2011. (Ernie Over photo)

By Dr. Mike Bowman, Superintendent, Fremont County School District #1

(Lander, Wyo.) – The budget approved for Fremont County School District #1 for 2012-13 has $307,650 more in expenditures than in revenues. The primary factors in the deficit are the ongoing costs associated with the statutorily-required 16:1 class-size average ratio in grades K-3, the declining enrollment at Lander Valley High School, and the legislature’s decision not to provide school districts with a cost-of-living adjustment for the third consecutive year.

An additional six elementary teachers were hired for the 2011-12 school year to meet the class-size requirement, and the cost of those teachers was around $420,000; the additional staff will be needed in 2012-13. The average daily membership (ADM) for LVHS has decreased by 67 students in the last two years and by 116 in the last six years. Since state funding is based on ADM, the loss of students has resulted in a decrease in revenues. The District also had a deficit in 2011-12 of $680,000 which was a result of under-collection of $500,000 of state funds plus the additional elementary classroom teachers. Superintendent of Schools Mike Bowman told the Board that he will work with the principals, other administrators and district personnel to determine ways to reduce expenditures in the future in order to have a balanced budget and hopefully reduce enough to fund salary increases in the future.

A photo from the dedication of the new Lander Middle School in August 2011. (Ernie Over photo)

The Board of Trustees received a surprise visit from representatives of Plan One/Architects and L.M. Olson Construction who informed Board members that they had been notified that Lander Middle School had received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification. There are only two other LEED-certified schools in the state; only one of those has the Gold Certification. There are only twenty-five buildings in Wyoming with LEED certification. The school received 52 of 53 possible points; 43 are required for Gold Certification. To earn LEED certification, the school had to meet certain requirements in areas such as sustainability, energy efficiency, use of daylighting, materials and resources used in construction, water-use reduction, pollution control, light pollution reduction, recycling, and acoustical performance. The Board of Trustees, after receiving requests from community members, decided to have the school constructed to meet the LEED requirements even though the cost was higher. Trustee Bruce Palmer said, “Thecommunity of Lander pushed for the school to be constructed under LEED certification, and the Board took the time to learn about LEED and then became committed. This is a feather in the cap for the community.” As part of the LEED requirements, Plan One/Architects developed forty hours of curriculum about aspects of the school pertaining to the LEED requirements that can be used by teachers with LMS students. The curriculum is tied to state standards and is interdisciplinary.

Other highlights of the Board meeting included:

• Approved changes in policy for certified and classified employee leaves-of-absence.

• Adopted a policy which allows for the response-to-intervention (RtI) process to be used for identification of students needing special education services.

• Approved a request from a former employee who had been approved for the early resignation incentive in 2008 to have the District pay for the cost of participating in the new insurance program in lieu of the previous insurance program for 2012-13, which is the last year of the incentive.

• Received on first-reading recommended changes to policies related to the functioning of the school board (Policy Section B).