September 16, 2016

CHEYENNE — Pete Gosar, chairman of the Wyoming State Board of Education (SBE), will present on the topic of Board Governance on September 20 at the Joint Education Committee (JEC) in Casper. The primary focus of the presentation will be on the need to retain a state board coordinator, add the University of Wyoming’s Dean of the College of Education as a new Ex-Officio member of the board, and to recommend that all three Ex-Officio board members be granted voting rights.

“The Wyoming State Board of Education is comprised of 13 volunteer members, 11 of which are appointed by the Governor,” said Gosar. “Professional, unbiased advisement and support, unaffected by political forces, is essential in ensuring the board is meeting its statutory obligations and working in the best interests of Wyoming students. During our time with the JEC we hope to convey the serious nature of this position, and also gain a positive recommendation for granting Ray Reutzel, Dean of the College of Education at University of Wyoming, a seat and full voting rights on the state board, along with other Ex-Officio members.”

The SBE is responsible for setting policy regarding assessments, accountability, accreditation and standards. In addition to its duties as the state board of education, it is also the acting board for vocational education, hears charter school appeals, grants court ordered placements and highlights broader goals for Wyoming education.

Without a state board coordinator, the board will have to rely solely on Wyoming Department of Education employees and the superintendent for direction, support and work product. “Our key concern is that without a dedicated board coordinator, the State Board of Education will no longer serve as an unbiased policy making body — it will no longer have the resources required to meet its statutory obligations,” said Gosar. “In the past few years, the State Board of Education’s workload has increased and education in Wyoming has benefitted from its perspective and dedicated involvement.”

Despite its growing responsibilities, the board has has returned money to state coffers in each of the last two bienniums, and like every other state agency, has reduced its budget by 8% in the coming biennium. “We will continue to find ways to save money that do not remove the board’s independent involvement in Wyoming’s education system, or place public access and our statutory responsibilities at risk.”

Following the Sept. 20 meeting, the JEC will make a recommendation to the legislature on state board governance, on the topics of the state board coordinator, addition of a new Ex-Officio board member, and granting all Ex-Officio members the right to vote on the state board of education. The legislature will vote on all three issues in the upcoming legislative session.

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