Category Archives: Superintendent’s Weekly Update

State Superintendent Jillian Balow sends an update to school district superintendents at the end of every week so they can see the memos which will be sent out the following week and highlight statewide education work.

Girls State

Dear Superintendents,

I hope summer is going well. Only one memo this week.

From left-to-right: WDE Communications Director Kari Eakins, Girls State delegate Riley, State Superintendent Jillian Balow, Girls State delegate Bailey, and WDE Chief Policy Officer Megan Degenfelder stand in front of the Great Seal of the State of Wyoming at the WDE.
Bailey from Cheyenne was elected State Superintendent at Girls State. She visited the WDE on Friday with her alternate, Riley from Rock Springs, to talk about education and leadership.

Memo to be released Monday, July 18:


JEIC Meeting

Dear Superintendents,

It was good to see many of you at events and meetings across the state this week. Legislative interim work is in motion after this week’s JEIC meetings. Here is a link to meeting materials including a number of WDE memos that were requested or required by the legislature during the 2018 session. I anticipate a number of committee-sponsored bills to come forth for 2019.

Chief Academic Officer Brent Bacon announced his retirement and we wish him well in whatever the future holds. Brent has been an instrumental leader in Wyoming education for decades and with my administration since 2015. We are actively seeking candidates to replace Brent. Here is the link to the job description and application information. Please consider sharing the link with your networks.

In my role as a state land commissioner, I had the privilege of helping dedicate a parcel of state trust land to former Treasurer Joe Meyer. Treasurer Meyer was an avid outdoorsman and “rock hound.” He and his family spent free time near the parcel of dedicated land, just outside of Dubois. The treasurer’s son, Vince Meyer, is a long-time and valued employee at WDE. He works behind the scenes with data and reporting. Congrats to the Meyer family on this homage to a Wyoming legend!

The State Board of Land Commissioners is made up with the five statewide elected officials (governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, and superintendent). Our fiduciary responsibility with state trust lands is to maximize revenue to be used for education in our state. Revenue is realized by leasing land for grazing, exploration, and more.

Superintendent Balow stands with Vince Meyer next to the sign that explains the dedication of the land behind them to Joe Meyer.
Vince Meyer of WDE helps dedicate a parcel of state trust land to his father and Wyoming’s late Treasurer Joe Meyer
A landscape in Wyoming with a fence in the foreground and prairie that turns into hills covered with pine trees in the background.
With Rams Horn Peak in the background, the dedicated parcel is a full section–640 acres

Memos to be released on Monday, June 11:


Start of the Summer

Dear Superintendents,

As summer approaches, I hope you all find time to relax with family and friends. In that spirit, memos from me will continue to go out on Friday and will intermittently be accompanied by an update. WDE is gearing up for numerous trainings across the state and we look forward to seeing many of you as you take opportunities to learn and network alongside educators and leaders from your districts.

Graduates don orange safety vests and gold hardhats as they hold their certificates next to three staff members from the Regional Training Center.

Students in Natrona County School District No. 1 received their Heavy Equipment Operator certifications (backhoe, excavator, bulldozer, and front end loader) from the Wyoming Contractors Association prior to their high school graduation. This inaugural graduation is the result of an innovative partnership between the school district and the Wyoming Contractors Association, with funding support from Skilled Careers Foundation and the WDE’s Career Technical Education team.

WDE staff sit with AIR staff and members of the Technical Advisory Committee in a conference room.

The Standards & Assessment Division had their quarterly meeting with American Institutes for Research (AIR) on Wednesday. The meeting was followed by two days of Technical Advisory Committee meetings.

There are no memos this week.


Federal Flexibility

Dear Superintendents,


This week, the United States Department of Education (USED) announced a second round of grants for a student-centered pilot. This marks a significant shift from state-selected sub-grantees to local school and district grantees. As part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), this grant could afford local flexibility from certain federal requirements. Memo 218-065 has more information.

CTE-Carl D. Perkins

Efforts to reauthorize the Carl Perkins (Career and Technical Education) Act might be resurrected. An interesting article from Bloomberg points to recent interest from the White House – specifically Ivanka Trump – motivating Senators to come back to the table to discuss reauthorization. The House passed a CTE bill nearly a year ago, and the Senate has been hung up over debate on secretarial prohibitions. If Senators Alexander and Murray can negotiate that hurdle, they may be able to reach a deal – but time is limited and the clock is ticking on highly sought after Senate floor time in this election year.

State Superintendent Jillian Balow, State Treasurer Mark Gordon, and Wyoming Governor Matt Mead stand with the twelve elementary school bookmark winners.
Wyoming Ag in the Classroom Bookmark Winners

Memos to be released on Tuesday, May 29, 2018:


Graduation Time

Dear Superintendents,

It’s always a treat to celebrate milestones and new beginnings at UW and across schools statewide. Congrats to all of your graduates as you celebrate in your communities!

University of Wyoming graduates, in the caps and gowns, fill the floor of the Arena Auditorium during their commencement ceremony while faculty on the stage applaud the graduates.
UW celebrates 2018 graduation with commencement ceremonies

The WDE held public input sessions that will help inform the computer science standards development committee. There is still an opportunity to provide input online through June 3. Here is the media release with additional information about opportunities, a timeline, and links for implementing Boot Up Wyoming, our state’s computer science initiative.

Boot Up Wyoming Media Release

Thank you to the superintendents, board members, teachers, and citizens who took time to attend one of the sessions.

A WDE staff member presents in a conference room with attendees filling the first row of tables.
Computer Science standards input meeting in Pinedale.

Memos to be released on Monday May 21:


Teacher Appreciation Week

Dear Superintendents,

There are a number of memos this week with important information and updates. As always, memos are released to Wyoming superintendents several days in advance of sending to particular educator audiences and posting to our website.

It was wonderful to see and take part in Teacher Appreciation Week 2018. Teachers are certainly the cornerstone of providing a quality education for every student and deserve every ounce of our praise.

Soon, we will release an introductory video for Boot Up Wyoming, our computer science initiative. This is the first call to action for stakeholders-parents, teachers, students, partners-to get engaged in the development of standards. The video will be available on social media and our website and will be a discussion starter at upcoming public input meetings across the state.

Here is a teaser from Wyoming’s 2017 Teacher of the Year and State Board member, Ryan Fuhrman

Sara Reed poses for a picture with Vice President Mike Pence in a crowded room in the White House.
2018 Wyoming Teacher of the Year, Sara Reed, with Vice President Pence
Superintendent Balow stands with participants and leaders from the Rawlins Best Buddies program underneath a big banner that reads, "Best Buddies".

Rawlins students, teachers, leaders, and community partners celebrated the inaugural year of the Best Buddies program

Memos to be released on Monday, May 14:


States Leading

Dear Superintendents,

Several national education organizations have partnered on the “States Leading” campaign (#statesleading) to highlight education efforts. The campaign is also an opportunity to underscore how states, under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), have leveraged their increased authority and responsibility to improve student outcomes and and meet the needs of all learners.

This week Wyoming’s Computer Science initiative was highlighted nationally. Here is the blog post:

Primarily through social media, our WDE team loves to highlight how schools in Wyoming are leading with your your efforts, successes, and celebrations. Please send articles, photos, blogs, or posts our way to so we can share.

Finally, we are settling into our new offices in the Herschler Building. Thank you for your patience as we have tried to continue business as usual despite the moving upheaval.

Dicky Shanor speaks with others inside the CSPAN bus during its stop in Cheyenne.
Chief of Staff Dicky Shanor talks with students and CSPAN during the CSPAN 50 Capitals Tour
Megan Degenfelder and Ray Pacheco pose with Casper GEAR UP Youth of the Year, John Dunkerley.
Chief Policy Officer Megan Degenfelder with Casper Gear Up Youth of the Year, John Dunkerley, and Casper Mayor Ray Pacheco
There are no memos this week.

The WDE has Moved!

Dear Superintendents,

It’s moving day at the WDE! We are now located at 122 West 25th Street. This is the newly re-constructed east wing of the Herschler Building. WDE occupies the 2nd floor. Please stop by to see us, say hello, and take a tour!

NOTE our new letterhead design and address beginning with this week’s memos.

Rita Watson sits at her workstation in the Hathaway Building surrounded by packed boxes with moving labels.
Rita Watson was the last holdout at the Hathaway on Thursday before the move to Herschler

Even though there are only a few days left in the month of April, many of us took the opportunity to recognize and appreciate military children for their service and sacrifice during April, the Month of the Military Child. Military children live with on-going challenges presented by frequent moves, family separations, and life transitions. They move 6-9 times during their K-12 years. In their own way, military-connected children serve, too.

May is Military Appreciation Month and another opportunity to recognize families and children connected to the military, including the National Guard members in our communities across Wyoming. The well-being of all military-connected children and youth depends on a strong, consistent network of supportive adults. Parents, teachers, mentors, and role models play a pivotal role in the life of a military child. Here is a toolkit with resources to learn how to help support all military children


In March, The White House school safety commission chaired by  Education Secretary Betsy DeVos held its first meeting. The U.S. Dept. of Ed has told advocates it plans to reach out to the education community and hold forums around the country in the future. You can learn more in this fact sheet, released by the White House in March.

One more update on federal funding for education:

Congress passed and the President signed the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus through September 30.  The omnibus includes $70.9 billion for the Department of Education, increasing federal investments in education by $3.9 billion over last fiscal year, or about 6 percent. Importantly, the FY 2018 omnibus includes a $300 million increase for Title I, the most important driver of equity in the federal education budget. Title II funding, which supports states in preparing learner-ready teachers, is preserved at FY 2017 levels. Also, in light of recent tragic violent events in schools across the country, this bill includes $1.1 billion – an increase of $700 million – for Title IV-A to support school climate and safety initiatives. This bill also includes the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act, funded at $75 million for the remainder of this fiscal year.

Congress is now working on legislation to fund Fiscal Year 2019. Appropriations requests letters are due to House Appropriators by April 26, and to the Senate by June 1.

Superintendent Balow visits with three high school students in the lobby of the Cheyenne Civic Center, where student art is displayed on the wall.
169 students received a Congressional Award for Youth last Sunday in Cheyenne

Memos to be released on Monday, April 30:


State Art Symposium

Dear Superintendents,

Apologies for the short update as I’m attending the State High School Art Symposium in Casper today.

A district superintendent visits with a high school girl in the center of the Casper Events Center, which is full of art on display.
Superintendent Newton visits with an artist from his school district.
Members of the state board sit and listen to Ms. Reed present while attendees fill the seats behind her.
2018 Wyoming Teacher of the Year, Sara Reed, presents to the State Board during their meeting in Gillette.

Memo to be released on Monday:


NAEP Results

Dear Superintendents,

Wyoming made a big splash with the release of NAEP scores this week. In addition to consistently performing above average in grades 4, 8 in both math and reading, Wyoming is closing achievement gaps for economically disadvantaged and special education students. Students across the state are taking advantage of educational opportunities that are a result of equitable and adequate funding. Here is a link to the press release for Wyoming NAEP scores:

The WY-TOPP summative assessment window opens next week. Our staff, AIR, and your coordinators will all have resources to provide technical assistance as needed.

State Superintendent Jillian Balow sits at a table with her counterparts from the Department of Defense Education Activity, California, and Florida for a panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
NAEP Day panel with superintendents from DoDEA, CA, and FL
State Superintendent Jillian Balow stands with the Governor, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, and college students in the WYDOT auditorium, where SLIB met and heard an update from the class.
State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) hears from the UW Portfolio Management class who invest a portion of Wyoming’s sovereign wealth on Thursday

Memos to be released on Monday, April 16: