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Last Upated: January 19, 2023
Each spring, parents face one of the biggest decisions they can make for their child’s future: What school environment will their child 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, homeschooling, and learning pods.
Looking for special education options? You can learn what special education services are available in Wyoming at the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.
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 $16,698 per public school student each year? You can search your school’s spending and that of nearby schools at Project Nickel.
In Wyoming, the state allows each district 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. As a real-world example, Natrona County Schools offers families a guide with information about curriculum and programming at different schools, and allows families to request their top choice school(s) rather than attend a zoned school.
Open enrollment is an important choice, widening parents’ options and ensuring that their zip code isn’t the sole determiner of their education. Find out more about public schools in your state at the Wyoming Department of 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. In Wyoming, charter schools must be authorized by a local district or the State Loan and Investment Board.
Wyoming passed charter school legislation in 1995. The state currently has five charter schools; these are located in Riverton, Laramie, and Cheyenne. Two additional charter schools – classical schools – are in the process of applying for approval to open. 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.
Magnet schools 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.
Unfortunately, there are no freestanding public magnet schools currently in operation in Wyoming. There may be magnet programs in traditional public schools, and the law allows for independent magnet schools, so stay tuned 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. There are more than 30 private schools across the state of Wyoming. These come in all shapes and forms, from religious schools to schools designed for children with special needs.
The average tuition for private schools in the state is $3,642 for elementary schools and $14,425 for high schools. Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in Wyoming at present, but private scholarships may be available. Also, 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 across districts, like Wyoming Virtual Academy, Wyoming Connections Academy, Cowboy State Virtual Academy, and Tech Trep Academy. Additionally, paid part-time options are available through a variety of providers.
Additionally, several Wyoming districts have developed local online school options, some of which may be open to out-of-district students. Many of these districts operate through Virtual 307, which provides a complete list of online programming available by grade and district.
To read more about online learning in Wyoming, check out the Digital Learning Collaborative’s state profile.
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.
In Wyoming, it is required that you provide notice of your intent to homeschool annually with curriculum prior to the school year beginning or prior to starting to homeschool. It is recommended that you formally withdraw from your public school so your student is not marked truant.
The state requires homeschooling parents to teach certain subjects (including reading, writing, and math), but does not require homeschoolers to take standardized tests. Note that homeschoolers in Wyoming may still be eligible to participate in sports or activities at local public schools.
Read more details on homeschooling in Wyoming.
Micro-schools, pods, pandemic pods, and learning pods all refer to the same concept: students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Pods themselves can take a variety of legal forms, but in general they can be separated into two categories: self-directed pod (homeschool, homeschool collaborative, or micro-school) and learning support pod. It’s important to understand what kind of pod you are signing up for and the requirements that go along with it. Learn more about learning pods.
If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Wyoming. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA.
If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have parents or other teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. You can read more about what Wyoming classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.
If your child is enrolled in an existing online school or local public, charter, or private school, and uses that school’s curriculum under the supervision of an adult in a learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school.
Additionally, you may want to visit these resources for more information about school choices in Wyoming:
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