Each spring, parents face one of the biggest decisions they can make for their child’s future: What school environment will their child will spend about 1,000 hours in next year?
Making that decision confidently starts with knowing what options you have; you may have more school choices than you realize! Understanding these options can help you find a school where your child grows and learns to the best of their ability. Wyoming families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.
Most Wyoming families choose traditional public schools, which are operated by school districts, free to attend, open to all students, and funded by taxpayers. Did you know that, on average, Wyoming spends $18,090 per public school student each year?
In Wyoming, the state allows each district decides to set its own open enrollment policies. Open enrollment refers to whether parents can send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. Parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to see if this is an option. Open enrollment is an important choice, widening parents’ options and ensuring that their zip code isn’t the sole determiner of their education.
Another public school option for Wyoming families are charter schools. Like traditional public schools, charter schools are public, free, and usually have no requirements for entry. What distinguishes charter schools is that they have extra freedom to innovate with curriculum and learning methods. Charter schools are accountable to authorizing bodies, such as colleges or school districts, for results.
Wyoming currently has four charter schools; these are located in Riverton, Laramie, and Cheyenne. Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves, whether that be providing a STEAM program or offering a rigorous, literacy-based curriculum. If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, a lottery system (like drawing random names out of a hat!) is typically used to determine admittance.
You can also choose magnet schools! These are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as an International Baccalaureate program or the performing arts. At a magnet school, all the subjects are taught through the lenses of that specific track. Wyoming does not currently have any magnet schools in operation, but this may be an option in the future!
Families in Wyoming can also consider private schools, nonpublic schools that charge tuition. Private schools may offer a unique curriculum, smaller class sizes, or a faith-based tradition. Wyoming’s private schools come in all shapes and forms, from religious schools to schools designed for children with special needs. Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in Wyoming at present, but private scholarships may be available. Also, effective in 2018, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Online learning is another important school choice in Wyoming. Whether your child wants to accelerate his or her learning or needs a quieter environment in which to focus, you may be interested in giving virtual school a try. Wyoming offers several free, full-time online learning options for students, like Wyoming Virtual Academy and Wyoming Connections Academy. Paid part-time options are available through a variety of other providers.
Wyoming families can also choose to homeschool, which allows for high levels of customized learning and flexibility. Homeschooling is the process of parents educating students at home. Check here for details on homeschooling in Wyoming.
Additionally, you may want to visit these resources for more information about school choices in Wyoming:
National School Choice Week 2020 will take place January 26 – February 1, 2020. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Click here for ideas, inspiration, and more information!
Wyoming will celebrate National School Choice Week 2020 with 61 events and activities across the state. Learn more about some of these celebrations at schoolchoiceweek.com/states/wyoming/.
"Shining a spotlight on effective educational options for every child"