All posts by tgabrukiewicz

Wyoming Receives Federal Waiver From Perkins Funding Requirements

CHEYENNE – The U.S. Department of Education (USED) granted Wyoming a waiver on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 of section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA), commonly referred to as the “Tydings Amendment,” to extend the period of availability of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 funds for obligation for programs, in which the SEA participates as the eligible agency until September 30, 2021, due to widespread school and program closures and disruptions related to the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The flexibility afforded through the waiver extends the use of fiscal year (FY) 2018 State grant  authorized by Title I of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 through September 30, 2021.

USED announced the availability of this waiver on Thursday, April 16, 2020 and information was immediately sent to states on the waiver submission process. This waiver allows Secretary Betsy DeVos to grant waivers requested by State educational agencies (SEAs) of section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA), often referred to as the “Tydings Amendment,” to extend the period of availability of State formula grant funds authorized by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins Act) and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA).

The waiver language can be viewed here. The Wyoming Department of Education will take public comment on the waiver through August 8, 2020. Comments can be submitted through an online form, or mailed to:

Wyoming Department of Education
Attn: Shelley Hamel
122 West 25th Street, Suite E200
Cheyenne, WY 82002

All public comments will be recorded verbatim, including the submitter’s name and city of residence, on the Secretary of State website as part of the rules promulgation process.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

Superintendent Balow Releases Smart Start Guidance for Fall School Reopenings

CHEYENNE – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow released the Smart Start guidance document Wednesday at a joint press conference with Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon. The guidance provides requirements, recommendations, and considerations based on three tiers of possible reopening and operating scenarios schools may face this fall.

“Our efforts to adapt to the COVID-19 environment have been immense over the last three months,” Superintendent Balow said. “Today, as we look to open schools in the fall, I am confident that we will be successful and also transform our school system for the better.”

Each school district will be required to submit their Smart Start plan to the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) by August 3, 2020. These plans must include how they will meet the requirements for all three tiers of operation in four focus areas: communications, safety and wellness, school operations, and instruction and technology. This preparation will allow districts to continue safely and effectively operating schools no matter which tier of operation they are in based on state or local health orders.

The Smart Start Working Group was created by the Governor’s COVID-19 Education Task Force to develop guidance to assist school and district leaders in their efforts to reopen schools for the 2020-21 school year. The group consists of school district leaders and educators, health professionals, representatives from the Governor’s Office, and technology partners. The Working Group is co-chaired by Wanda Maloney, Wyoming Department of Education Accountability Director and Stephanie Pyle, Senior Administrator of the Public Health Division with the Wyoming Department of Health.

“Now more than ever, school districts have the opportunity to strengthen community relationships by crafting reopening plans that include frequent two-way communication. Effective communication plans will be the cornerstone for successfully reopening school buildings and delivering a quality education to all students under any circumstances.” said Communications Subcommittee Chair Lachelle Brant.

“Beginning in March, health and education had to come together in ways no one could have imagined just a few weeks prior,” said Safety and Wellness Subcommittee Chairperson Janet Farmer. “Through the Safety and Wellness subcommittee, we have worked to make sure the school environment will be a healthy place.”

The guidance document will help school districts define a foundation and framework to move forward with an eye toward adaptability.

“Our team’s goal was to provide a blueprint of ideas to help districts develop school reentry plans to ensure a meaningful, equitable, and safe learning environment for all students,” said Instruction and Technology Subcommittee Chair Brian Harms.

“School Operations undergirds all the critical work in a school district ensuring students get to school safely and on time, that they are fed nutritious meals, and that our students learn in safe and inviting environments,” said School Operations Subcommittee Chair Paige Hughes. “Input from different-sized districts from all across the state has informed a targeted set of requirements and recommendations to help support district leaders in opening their schools in a way that allows optimal learning while keeping students and staff healthy.

Smart Start Guidance Document

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov

Superintendent Balow to Join Governor Gordon Wednesday to Discuss Smart Start School Reopening

CHEYENNE – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillan Balow will join Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 1 to provide an update on the Smart Start Working Group. The Smart Start group is a committee charged by the Governor’s COVID-19 Education Task Force to develop guidance for reopening schools in the fall. The guidance is to assist school and district leaders in their efforts to reopen schools next school year. The group started their work in early June and consists of school district leaders and educators, health professionals, representatives from the Governor’s Office, and technology partners.The Task Force is co-chaired by Wanda Maloney, Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) Accountability Director and Stephanie Pyle, Senior Administrator of the Public Health Division with the Wyoming Department of Health.

The WDE, along with the Wyoming Department of Health, submitted an initial draft document on June 26 to the Governor’s COVID 19 Education Task Force for review. This Smart Start working document, which will be released directly following the press conference, provides requirements, recommendations, and considerations based on a three-tiered definition of possible reopening and operating scenarios schools may face. This information is designed to support school districts and health officials in defining a plan that will address the needs of students, teachers, and staff at a local level.

The briefing will be streamed live on Wyoming PBS television, the Wyoming PBS’ Facebook page and Wyoming PBS YouTube channel.

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Media Contact:
Linda Finnerty, Communications Director
307-777-2053
linda.finnerty@wyo.gov.

District and State Teacher of the Year Nominations

Dear Superintendents,

Welcome to summer, officially! We are excited about the participation in our summer trainings and opportunities! Thank you for encouraging staff attendance.

District and State Teachers of the Year

We have fewer applications than usual for our 2021 State Teacher of the Year (STOY). Please ensure:

  1. Your district selects a 2021 District Teacher of the Year (DTOY)
  2. Your DTOY fills out the application for STOY. The application is here.

Other Updates

  • The WDE will provide an ESSER funds update to districts in the coming days as more information about how “equitable services” affects Wyoming schools and ESSER fund calculations.
  • The Smart Start group finalized a draft fall reopening plan and presented it to the COVID-19 Education Task Force today (Friday). The draft plan contains requirements, recommendations, and considerations for schools as you consider how to reopen buildings for school in the fall.

Memos to be released on Monday, June 29:

  • 2020-101:    Webinar on English Learners and Title III Funding
  • 2020-102:    Plan “A” School Counselor Professional Development Days – Fall 2020

Wyoming Updates from USED

Dear Superintendents,

The United States Department of Education (USED) approved the following for Wyoming:

  • Wyoming received a provisional waiver permitting an extension of the period of availability in Section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act for Federal fiscal year (FFY) 2018 the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B grant award funds. Grant award funds will be available for obligation through September 30, 2021 and may be liquidated through December 30, 2021.
  • Wyoming’s Perkins V plan was approved, along with fourteen other sates. The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) encourages states to expand opportunities for every student to access coursework that will put them on the path to success. Wyoming, along the other approved states, crafted a plan to fulfill a promise to offer robust Career and Technical Education (CTE) options for students. The plan was developed in consultation with key constituents representing education and workforce, business and industry, and parents and community leaders.

In-person Instruction Updates:

  • Governor Gordon released new health orders on June 10. The orders relax in-person instruction restrictions and go into effect on June 15. School districts should continue to work with local health officials to determine appropriate practices.
  • The Smart Start group continues to work on considerations, recommendations, and requirements for fall reopening. This should not preclude school districts from developing local plans.

Summer and Fall Professional Development:

  • Many of our upcoming professional development opportunities have shifted to an online format. This has given us flexibility and unforeseen opportunities to expand offerings. Please be sure to check our website for updates and events.
  • TWO such events (Perkins V, literacy) are included with this week’s memos.

Memos to be released on Monday, June 15:

2020-091:    Technical Education Tuesdays
2020-092:    Virtual Learning Professional Development Survey
2020-093:    Computer Science Teacher Competency Review Committee
2020-094:    End of Year WDE652 Staffing Collection
2020-095:    WDE and UW Co-Sponsored K-3 Literacy Conference