Category Archives: News Releases

News releases from the Wyoming Department of Education

Wyoming Receives Federal Waiver from Education Funding Requirements

CHEYENNE – The U.S. Department of Education (USED) granted Wyoming a waiver Tuesday, April 7, 2020 from certain federal funding and programmatic requirements related to title-funded programs in light of the widespread school closures due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The flexibility afforded through the waiver extends the use of fiscal year (FY) 2018 funds through September 30, 2021, and expands the possible uses of some title programs in an effort to allow districts to meet the educational needs of their students.

“The United States Department of Education was quick to respond to the immediate needs of states and their school districts,” said Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “Granting flexibility in how funding is traditionally used lets districts make critical decisions to fill gaps and think strategically about the best ways to serve students, staff, and parents during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The USED announced the availability of this waiver on Monday, April 6, 2020 and information was immediately sent to states on the waiver submission process. The waiver removes some requirements of the Education and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) relative to Federal FY 2018 and 2019 funds. Sections of the federal statutes being waived are detailed below:

  • Waiver of sections 1127(a) and (b) allows the WDE to approve districts’ waivers, more than once every three years, of the 15 % carryover limitation for fiscal year (FY) 2019 Title I, Part A funds.
  • Waiver of section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) extends the period of availability of FY 2018 funds for programs in which the WDE participates under its approved consolidated State plan through September 30, 2021.
  • Waiver of section 4106(d) Title IV, Part A increases flexibility for the use of funds without the requirement to update the needs assessment for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Waiver of sections 4106(e)(2)(C), (D), and (E) of Title IV, Part A removes the percentage requirements for the use of FY 2019 funds allowing districts greater flexibility.
  • Waiver of section 4109(b) of Title IV, Part A removes the spending limitation for technology infrastructure for FYs 2018 and 2019.
  • Waiver of section 8101(42) expands the definition of “professional development” to include shorter term training events for the 2019-2020 school year for training topics that would typically be allowed under each program.

The waiver language can be viewed here. The Wyoming Department of Education will take public comment on the waiver through May 14, 2020. Comments can be submitted online or mailed to:

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

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Media Contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director
307-777-2053
michelle.panos1@wyo.gov

Superintendent Balow’s Statement on School Closure Extension

CHEYENNE – Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow issued the following statement in light of the recent order by Governor Mark Gordon and the Wyoming Department of Health to extend school closures until the end of April.

“As the State Superintendent, I can proudly say that education in Wyoming is prepared to move forward no matter the circumstances,” Balow said.

“As of Thursday, all 48 school districts have Adapted Learning Plans for the continued instruction of all students. The process to build and approve these plans was iterative and involved multiple reviews by districts and the Wyoming Department of Education. I have personally read every plan and communicated individually with every superintendent in the state.

“I have extended maximum flexibility to school districts in addressing the needs of all students. They also can – and will be – modified as long as the closure exists. My office and I will continue to provide guidance, technical assistance, and support.

“In their plans, school districts had to summarize their instructional approach and strategies for engaging all students. There are 48 unique plans to meet the needs of students. Learning is age-appropriate and will not feel like ‘normal school.’

“My continued guidance is to prioritize personal and community health.

“The Governor’s COVID-19 task force on education, which I chair, has focused our work on kindergarten readiness and transitions from high school to college and career. We are also working through implications and guidance for incoming education stabilization funds as a result of the federal CARES Act. We look forward to providing updates.

“I would like to end by saying – we have the best educators” Balow concluded. “We have the best students. We have the best communities. Let’s support each other.”

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Media Contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director
307-777-2053
michelle.panos1@wyo.gov

WDE Approves all 48 School District Adapted Learning Plans

CHEYENNE – As of Thursday, the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) approved the Adapted Learning Plans for all 48 school districts. Each district was required to submit a unique plan that lays out the strategies each district is implementing to continue to educate students while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am impressed by the agility of Wyoming school districts to create learning plans designed to meet the needs of all students in this COVID-19 environment,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “In the span of three weeks, the WDE and school districts worked together to build and approve these plans that will result in continued teaching and learning for more than 90,000 students and 20,000 staff in every school district across our state.”

The Adapted Learning Plans include strategies to deliver a combination of virtual lessons, hard copy packets of assignments, phone calls, emails, and limited in-person instruction. Other aspects of plans include details for attendance, student progress, staff utilization, parent and community engagement, compliance with special education law, considerations for graduating seniors, and student privacy.

“I am especially proud of how school districts have responded to the nutritional needs of students,” Balow said. “Within a few days of the initial school closures, all 48 districts, with the assistance of the WDE School Nutrition Team, seamlessly activated plans to feed kids. Families’ lives have been significantly disrupted by this pandemic, and schools are stepping up to provide support and stability for students.”

To access the contents of a particular school district plan, contact the school district directly.

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Media Contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director
307-777-2053
michelle.panos1@wyo.gov

State Superintendent Issues Guidance For Continuing Education During School Closures

CHEYENNE – In light of the extension of the three existing orders by Governor Mark Gordon and the Wyoming Department of Health to keep schools closed through April 17, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow has issued guidance for school districts’ safe, but continued, operation during the extended closure.

“School doors may be closed to students, but Wyoming education is open for business,” Balow said. “The desire by teachers to connect with their students and provide learning opportunities has been inspiring. Teaching and learning while practicing social distancing is a new concept for many. Teachers, parents, and students all need support in order for it to be successful.”

Each Wyoming school district must have an Adapted Learning Plan approved by the Wyoming Department of Education prior to April 6 to continue to receive state funding. On Monday, April 6, every district is expected to continue to provide an equitable education for all students in grades
K-12 while access to school buildings is limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Adapted Learning Plans will allow each school district to deliver instruction through unique methods best suited to their district.

“We are working through immense challenges with laws, policies, practices, and logistics. The collaboration among state leaders and local districts has been incredible,” Balow said. “We are all working together to give our students the education they deserve during this trying time.”

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Media Contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director
307-777-2053
michelle.panos1@wyo.gov

Wyoming Receives Federal Waiver from Assessment and Accountability Requirements

CHEYENNE – The U.S. Department of Education (USED) granted Wyoming a waiver Friday from certain federal assessment and accountability requirements in light of the widespread school closures due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a result, Wyoming students will not take the statewide assessment, WY-TOPP, this spring and no formal accountability determinations will be made for the 2019-20 school year.

“U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team at USED responded to our waiver request within hours,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “The Wyoming Department of Education has already begun to evaluate the impacts of receiving the waiver and is working quickly and carefully to chart a path forward.

“By removing this testing burden from schools, districts will be better able to continue to focus on their students’ immediate needs during this unprecedented time.”

President Donald Trump announced the availability of waivers Friday morning and information was immediately sent to states on the waiver submission process. Specifically, the waiver removes requirements for the 2019-20 school year, of the assessment requirements in section 1111(b)(2) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the accountability and school identification requirements in sections 1111(c)(4) and 1111(d)(2)(C)-(D), and certain reporting requirements related to assessments and accountability in section 1111(h).

The Wyoming Department of Education will take public comment on the waiver through April 20, 2020. Comments can be submitted through an online form, or mailed to:

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

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Media Contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director
307-777-2053
michelle.panos1@wyo.gov

Superintendent Balow’s Statement on New UW President Ed Seidel

CHEYENNE – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said she enthusiastically supports Ed Seidel’s selection as the 28th president of the University of Wyoming – and looks forward to working with him. Balow’s statement:

“I am thrilled to work with incoming UW President Ed Seidel. He brings a passion for STEM, the Arts, athletics, and learning for all ages. I am particularly enthusiastic about his knowledge and passion for K-12 Computer Science education and Wyoming’s Boot Up initiative. He will add value to the commitment that all Wyoming graduates are well prepared for tomorrow’s world.”

Boot Up Wyoming 2022 is an initiative to implement computer science in all Wyoming schools.

“He’s raised millions of dollars to support innovation and had a great impact,” said Balow, who was a member of the UW interview team. “We look forward to benefiting from his leadership. Ed aims high and that will fit well in Wyoming and at the University of Wyoming.”

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Media contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director
307-777-2053
michelle.panos1@wyo.gov

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow’s Statement on the COVID-19 Virus

CHEYENNE – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow joined Governor Mark Gordon and representatives from Homeland Security, the Wyoming Department of Health and Wyoming Military Department to discuss the COVID-19 virus and plans to be ready should cases of the virus show up in Wyoming.

Balow emphasized that districts would not be penalized financially, should Wyoming schools be shuttered to combat the spread of COVID-19. Her statement:

“As of today, I have reached out to district superintendents, as well as our state’s associations for school nurses and custodians. Every community and every school has the appropriate and necessary personnel to lead the prevention, planning, and management of the COVID-19 and other diseases. School nurses, custodians, and principals, in collaboration with county and state health departments should stay abreast of updates and communicate pertinent information to students, staff, parents, and the public. Schools should revisit current practices to ensure they are the very best practices and make adjustments as needed. For example, are desks and other surfaces disinfected according to best practice protocol? Do students have adequate time and facilities to wash hands before lunch? Should professional development time be devoted to training, or re-training staff? Strict adherence to the best practices our professionals know are the best measure for prevention.

“If a school becomes affected by COVID-19 and is required to stop operations for a period of time, I encourage districts to contact my office, the Wyoming Department of Education, and work with staff on the availability of a waiver to ensure that they receive full funding for the school year. It is my responsibility in state law to work directly with local school districts to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of students, teachers, and other employees. I will do what I can to avoid any districts being penalized financially for taking measures to protect their students.”

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Media contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director
307-777-2053
michelle.panos1@wyo.gov

WDE Announces Wyoming Child And Adult Care Food Program Sites

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) has announced the participating Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) organizations in the State of Wyoming Friday. The program reimburses participating organizations for nutritious meals and snacks served to children in child care centers and family day care homes. It also teaches good eating habits and assures that well-balanced, nourishing meals are served in these participating centers.

Organizations are reimbursed for meals provided to children who are up to 12 years of age. The same meals must be made available to all enrolled children at no separate charge regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age. There is no discrimination in the course of the meal service.

Centers are reimbursed for meals that are served at their location. Completing the income application helps the center receive meal reimbursement for the meals they serve. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), foster children, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and eligibility based on household income qualify for the meal claim reimbursements to the center as defined by the USDA Eligibility Guidelines.

For more information, contact Tamra Jackson, WDE Nutrition Section, at 307-777-6263 or tamra.jackson@wyo.gov.

LIST OF PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS BY COUNTY:

Albany  

  • U.W. Early Care & Education Center
  • Developmental Preschool and Day Care
  • Laramie Educational Afterschool Facility, Developmental Preschool and Day Care
  • Laramie Child Development
  • Laramie Head Start
  • Kiddie Cottage Daycare
  • Basic Beginnings North
  • Basic Beginnings South/Aaron’s Place

Big Horn

  • Basin Head Start, Absaroka Head Start
  • Lovell Head Start Absaroka Head Start
  • Shooting Star Academy

Campbell

  • Boys and Girls Club of Campbell County
  • Campbell County Head Start, WY Child and Family Development
  • Scotty’s Toy Box

Carbon

  • Rawlins Head Start, Carbon County Child Development
  • Saratoga Head Start, Carbon County Child Development

Converse

  • Douglas Child & Family Development, WY Child and Family Development
  • Glenrock Early Childhood Center, WY Child and Family Development
  • Glenrock Boys and Girls Club, Boys and Girls Club of Central Wyoming

Crook

  • Moorcroft Head Start, WY Child and Family Development

Fremont

  • Lander Child Development Services, Child Development Services of Fremont County
  •  Riverton Child Development Services, Child Development Services of Fremont County
  • Ethete Head Start/Early Head Start, Eastern Shoshone & Northern Arapaho Birth to Five Head Start
  • Ft. Washakie Head Start, Eastern Shoshone & Northern Arapaho Birth to Five Head Start
  • Great Plains Head Start, Eastern Shoshone & Northern Arapaho Birth to Five Head Start
  • Smart-Start Quality Care
  • World Cares Inc./Small World Children’s Center
  • Little Cougars – FCSD #6
  • Tears, Laughs & Cuddles Child Care
  • Happy Kids Daycare
  • Lander Head Start, Absaroka Head Start
  • Riverton Head Start, Absaroka Head Start

Goshen                               

  • Lil’ Bits n Spurs Child Care
  • Torrington Learning Center, WY Child and Family Development
  • Lincoln Infant and Toddler Center, WY Child and Family Development
  • Stacey Houk Family Enrichment Center

Hot Springs

  •  Thermopolis Center, Absaroka Head Start

Johnson

  •  Buffalo Head Start, Absaroka Head Start
  • Buffalo Boys and Girls Club
  • Noah’s Ark Christian Daycare
  • Buffalo Children’s Center

Laramie

  • Eyes of the World Academy
  • F.E. Warren AFB Child Development Center
  • F.E. Warren Youth Center
  • Community Action of Laramie County/Head Start
  • Foundations Learning Academy
  • Promise Patch Preschool and Daycare
  • World of Wonder
  • Triumph Early Learning Center
  • Alphabet Academy
  • Alphabet Academy II
  • Alphabet Academy III
  • South High School – Supper
  • Afflerbach Elementary-Supper
  • Arp Elementary-Supper
  • Alta Vista Elementary-Supper
  • Baggs Elementary-Supper
  • Rossman Elementary-Supper
  • Kiddie Kollege
  • Silly Bear
  • Apple Seed Academy
  • Early Head Start, Community Action of Laramie County
  • Family Resource Center, Community Action of Laramie County
  • Laramie County Head Start East Center, Community Action of Laramie County
  • Laramie County Head Start Main Center, Community Action of Laramie County
  • Little Monkeys/Kodru Childcare Services
  • Cheyenne Family YMCA

Lincoln

  • Kemmerer Child Development Center, Lincoln Uinta Child Development Association (LUCDA)
  • Afton Child Development Center, LUCDA
  • Thayne Child Development Center, LUCDA
  • Alpine Child Development Center, LUCDA

Natrona

  • Natrona County School District #1, Bar Nunn, Cottonwood, Evansville , Journey Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Mountain View, Pineview, University Park, Willard, Midwest-(PK and Supper)
  • Angels Child Care Center, LLC
  • Casper College, Inga Thorson Early Childhood Learning Center
  • Mountain Ridge Akidemy
  • Sunshine Corner Day Care
  • Learning Junction Children’s Center
  • Natrona County Head Start/Home Start, WY Child and Family Development
  • Natrona County Early Head Start, WY Child and Family Development
  • Casper Early Childhood Center, WY Child and Family Development
  • Lifesteps Early Head Start, WY Child and Family Development
  • Greater Casper Boys and Girls Club, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming
  • Mills Boys and Girls Club, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming
  • Lincoln Branch Boys and Girls Club, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming
  • Paradise Valley Boys and Girls Club, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming
  • Verda James, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming
  • Busy Bumblebees Child Care Center
  • Neighborhood Child Caring Center
  • Neighborhood Child Learning Center
  • Kids Campus, Casper Housing Authority
  • Wildwood Child and Adult Care Food Program (Sponsor of home daycares throughout the state)

Niobrara

  •  Lusk Early Childhood Center, WY Child and Family Development

Park

  • Northwest College Child Care Center
  • The Learning Garden
  • Winsor Castle Daycare & Preschool
  • Cody Head Start, Absaroka Head Start
  • Powell Head Start, Absaroka Head Start
  • A Little Paradise
  • The Crane Academy
  • True North Academy

Platte

  • Platte County Day Care/Kid’s Kastle
  • Wheatland Early Childhood Center, Wyoming Child and Family Development
  • Guernsey Early Childhood Center, Wyoming Child and Family Development

Sheridan

  • Marion Day Care
  • Tongue River Child’s Place
  • Children’s Center
  • Sheridan Head Start, Absaroka Head Start
  • Harmony Child Care Center

Sublette

  • Children’s Discovery Center
  • The REAL Center/The Redstone Early Active Learning Center

Sweetwater

  • Green River Head Start, Sweetwater County Head Start
  • Rock Springs Head Start, Sweetwater County Head Start
  • Fits of Laughter Child Care

Teton

  • EH/Headstart, Mercill Site, Rafter J Site, The Children’s Learning Center

Uinta

  • Children’s Learning Foundation, Evanston Child Development Center
  • Bridger Valley Child Development Center, Mountain View, LUCDA
  • Children’s Learning Foundation, Evanston Child Development Association
  • Evanston Child Development Center, Evanston Child Development Association
  • Lil’ Rascals Academy

Washakie

  • Worland Head Start, Abasorka Head Start

Weston

  • Newcastle Child Development Center, Weston County Child Development Center
  • Upton Child Development Center, Weston County Child Development Center
  • Little One’s Family Child Care

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In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1) Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights1400 Independence Avenue, SWWashington, D.C. 20250-9410;(2) Fax: (202) 690-7442; or(3) Email: program.intake@usda.gov.This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Center Cohort 13 Grants Awarded

CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) is pleased to announce the recipients of the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) Cohort 13 grants. With $2.05 million in funding available, the WDE awarded a grant to each of the following school districts and community-based organizations across the state:

  • ASK Program-Cheyenne – $225,000
  • Big Horn County School District #4 – $98,386
  • Carbon County Boys and Girls Club – $119,398
  • Converse County School District #1 – $225,000
  • Fremont County School District #1 – $146,668
  • Greater WY Big Brothers Big Sisters – $217,549
  • Hot Springs County School District #1 – $220,149
  • PRACTICE Afterschool Program-Torrington – $152,983
  • Teton Literacy Center-Jackson – $213,311
  • Uinta BOCES #1 Education Center – $215,000
  • Youth Emergency Services, Inc Gillette – $225,000

The 21st CCLC program is authorized under Title IV, Part B, of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Recipients of 21st CCLC grants must serve students and families from low-performing, high needs schools with before/after school programs as well as summer learning programs. The grants are awarded for up to five years, with continued funding dependent on performance and federal funding allocations. For more information about the individual programs, contact the recipients.

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Media contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director
307-777-2053
michelle.panos1@wyo.gov

Help Prevent Childhood Hunger and Poor Nutrition in the Summer

CHEYENNE – In an effort to head off hunger and poor nutrition across the state, the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) seeks sponsors for the Summer Food Service Program. This is a federally funded program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides nutritious meals and snacks to children in low-income areas during the summer months.

Sponsors may include public and private nonprofit schools; local and municipal sites; houses of worship; county, tribal and state government entities; private nonprofit organizations; public and private nonprofit camps; and public and private nonprofit universities or colleges.

Summer food program sites must be either in the attendance area of a school where 50 percent or more of students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals, or within the boundaries of a U.S. Census block where at least 50 percent of children are eligible for free and reduced-price meals at school. Once those criteria are met, the site is open to all area children under the age of 18.

Last year, Wyoming summer food service program sites provided 294,496 meals and snacks to children and teenagers throughout Wyoming. Sponsors are reimbursed a set amount per each meal served.

More information is available on the WDE website.

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In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1) Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2) Fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3) Email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Media contact:
Michelle Panos, Communications Director
307-777-2053
michelle.panos1@wyo.gov