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Wyoming school facility commission may update assessment process

Wyoming's School Facilities Commission will vote at its June 7 and 8 meeting in Buffalo on emergency rules to adopt changes to the state's School Facility Condition Assessment process.

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Wyoming’s School Facilities Commission will vote at its June 7 and 8 meeting in Buffalo on emergency rules to adopt changes to the state’s School Facility Condition Assessment process.

The meeting will take place at Johnson County School District #1, located at 601 W. Lott in Buffalo.

Legislators established the commission in 2002 to ensure adequate, equitable primary and secondary school facilities in Wyoming. The governor appoints commissioners, while legislators approve them.

In the 2022 Budget Session, Wyoming legislators decided to appropriate $4 million for the new School Facility Condition Assessment, according to the meeting packet. During this year’s legislative session, lawmakers eliminated the consolidated remediation schedule, which goes into effect in July. They changed state laws around charter schools that require the department to determine whether school districts have sufficient space for such a school. These changes require rules updates.

The School Facilities Division of the State Construction Department recommends the state’s School
Facilities Commission complete the following, the meeting packet said:

Adopt the Emergency Rules draft the Department has presented to the School Facilities
Commission and request the Governor not sign them into effect until on or after July 1,
2023, when the statutory changes take effect with regards to the consolidated remediation

Direct the Department present the Emergency Rules to the Select Committee on School
Facilities on June 28-29, 2023, in order to comply with the School Facilities Commission’s
duty to consult with the Committee prior to adopting regular rules;

Find that a a five-year projection period for FCI scores is supported by industry practice
and by the needs of the biennium budget process;

Find that a FCI score of 0.3 is appropriate, as recommended by Bureau Veritas in its
professional opinion, as an optimal point to begin studying whether building renewal is
necessary and that an FCI score of 0.6 is appropriate for the purpose of determining whether
a school building or facility is adequate;

Adopt the proposed Order Concerning Existing School Facilities Commission Most Cost-
Effective Remedy Determinations; and

Direct the Department to prepare the necessary documentation and forms such that the
School Facilities Commission can adopt the Emergency Rules as Regular Rules at its July
2023 meeting.

These are the proposed emergency rules:

The Department and any consultants shall consider the following criteria, as
applicable, in identifying the most cost-effective remedy for school building and facility needs to
deliver quality educational services and to meet adequacy standards:
(i) The requirements of the Uniform Adequacy Standards, Facility Design Standards and
Guidelines, methodologies, procedures, and policies of the Commission;
(ii) Appropriate data and facts concerning the condition, capacity, and adequacy of the
identified school building or buildings;
(iii) The district facility plan;
(iv) Any available non-construction alternatives;
(v) The availability of major building and facility repair and replacement funds to
address the identified need;
(vi) District enrollment projections and all available FCI projections;
(vii) The educational building or facility’s design capacity and square footage;
(viii) The immediacy of the need for a remedy;
(ix) The prescribed statewide educational program;
(x) The total project cost and estimated budget for all determined remedies to address the
identified need in comparison to the benefit expected to be derived from each
(xi) School district input, including but not limited to a consultation with the district and
any studies commissioned by the district and presented to the Department; and
(xii) Any other factor the Department, at its sole discretion, deems appropriate.

Gov. Mark Gordon said in a news release today that he supports updating the process, which helps the School Facilities Division develop funding recommendations for Wyoming school facility projects. The new assessment would create an independent process that will allow school districts, the School Facilities Commission and the Legislature’s Select Committee on School Facilities to equitably assess that facilities are conducive to students’ learning.

School districts will be able to proactively plan for repair, renovation or replacement of buildings under the new process, which also projects and forecasts the cost of future repairs and reports on each assessed district building, with more detailed, accurate information to guide the allocation of resources, Gordon’s office said. The process would be a more proactive approach to identifying condition and capacity needs. Districts would have more opportunities to present concerns to the commission and participate in decision-making.

“Our goal was to establish a fair and consistent process to ensure we make reasonable and evidence-based decisions for our students, that local districts are involved, and that together we are developing the most cost-effective remedies,” Gordon said. “The state’s ability to address school major maintenance and capital construction is impacted by numerous factors. This new assessment process will ensure that we are adequately addressing the needs of our school communities and effectively spending taxpayer dollars.”

The commission’s agenda includes an informational presentation regarding facility challenges at Campbell County School District’s Campbell County High School.

Campbell County School District’s next regular board meeting is June 13.