Update on June Interim Committee Meeting of the Joint Education Committee

Update on June Interim Committee Meeting of the Joint Education Committee

The Joint Education Committee met for their first interim meeting on June 12th and 13th in Laramie. These first interim meetings typically provide a detailed overview of the topics the Committee wishes to take up in the interim, where the final result may be a committee bill to be presented during the 2025 General Session. Those topics include pre-kindergarten, school choice, vouchers and charter schools, K-3 reading, mental health, and Career and Technical Education.

Early Childhood Education Versus Childcare

The first day of the Joint Education Committee’s meeting focused mainly on pre-K. Presentations made to the Committee illustrated the State’s current structure of governance of programs, finance, management, and administration of pre-K and, separately, of childcare in the State of Wyoming.

The State’s current system of TANF-eligible, federally-subsidized childcare programs and severely limited access to district and grant-funded pre-K programs, creates a climate of spotty, confusing, fragmented access to pre-K education for children under 5 in Wyoming.

Ultimately, WEA is advocating for State funding of high-quality, equitable, fully-integrated pre-K programs for all Wyoming students.

This year, the legislature passed— as part of a larger voucher program bill— a program under which parents and guardians of children aged 4+ who fall within 125% of the federal poverty limit may access funds for Early Childhood Education. However, this bill is problematic, and WEA contends that it’s unconstitutional in that it provides no mechanism of oversight for the content or quality of qualifying early childhood education to be paid for through these funds. That lack of oversight means that young children in Wyoming are still, overwhelmingly, being deprived of accessible quality early childhood education. 

WEA is working closely with the Committee and the National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER) to draft a bill aimed at resolving our state’s issues with inaccessibility and the overall lack of quality that governs early childhood education in Wyoming.

Voucher Program and Charter Schools

The Committee also explored the current State of school choice in Wyoming, specifically how the Wyoming Department of Education is working to implement the voucher program that was passed last session. There was also discussion regarding the charter school system in Wyoming. Charter school advocates testified in opposition of their requirement to cover the cost of administrators for charter schools, whereas, in our public schools, those personnel costs for administrators are covered in our funding model. However, it is important to note that charter schools increase the overall cost of education without any real understanding of how those students perform in contrast to their K-12 counterparts and what impact they have on local education systems here in Wyoming.


Day two started with a brief examination of current work on the State’s K-3 reading initiative. After this overview of the K-3 reading, the committee quickly moved into a very important area of education policy: mental health. After hearing testimony, including that of WEA Government Relations Director Tate Mullen, the Committee decided to propose legislation that would expand the Medicaid reimbursement for school-based services to the six largest districts in the State before potentially expanding this effort statewide.  

Finally, to wrap up the first interim meeting, the Committee received significant input from LSO, PTSB, WDE, Wyoming State Board of Career and Technical Education (CTE), and the Wyoming Community College Commission on Career and Technical Education. The Committee wanted to understand what funding mechanisms were in place, what teacher certification looks like for CTE, and which programs are offered. The idea behind the effort is to expand Career and Technical Education opportunities across districts as well as assess resource needs. The Committee also explored alignment between K-12 CTE and CTE programs provided by Wyoming’s community colleges.

The next Joint Education Committee meeting is scheduled for August 28th and 29th in Casper. At this meeting, WEA plans to present a statewide high-quality Early Childhood Education program with national policy experts from National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER).