Choosing a school? You’ve got options.
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 in Wyoming 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 learning, homeschooling, and microschooling and mix-and-match learning.
Looking for special education options? You can learn what special education services are available in Wyoming at the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.
- Traditional Public Schools
- Public Charter Schools
- Public Magnet Schools
- Private Schools
- Online Schools
Wyoming Traditional Public Schools
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 $18,144 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. You can also learn more about open enrollment at “Public Schools Without Boundaries: A 50-State Ranking.”
Wyoming Charter Schools
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 new Wyoming Charter School Authorizing Board.
Wyoming passed charter school legislation in 1995. The state currently has at least five charter schools; these are located in Riverton, Laramie, Chugwater, and Cheyenne. Another charter school, Cheyenne Classical Academy, is approved to open in fall 2024. Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves, whether that be offering a STEAM program or providing project-based learning in a rural community.
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.
Wyoming Magnet Schools
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!
Wyoming Private Schools
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 $7,060 for elementary schools and $19,067 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.
Wyoming Online Learning
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 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.
In 2023, legislators expanded the definition of homeschooling in Wyoming so that it can include more than one family. This makes it easier for homeschoolers to form co-ops and collaborate without losing homeschool protections.
Read more details on homeschooling in Wyoming.
Wyoming Microschools and Mix-and-Match Learning
Today, many Wyoming families are mixing and matching school options to come up with new ways to personalize education. Microschools are one of these ways. A microschool refers to students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Microschools can take a variety of shapes and legal forms, from homeschoolers coming together at an enrichment center to a private school committed to small classrooms. What microschools share in common is a commitment to small-group learning, close-knit relationships, and an emphasis on children as individual learners.
Here are a couple of real examples of microschools and related resources in your state:
- Compass Micro School Compass Micro School is a problem-based, student-centered school serving students in Jackson.
- Impact Wyoming is a group established in March 2020 to build stronger Wyoming communities through youth engagement.
Remember, microschooling is more a mentality than a specific legal distinction in most cases. Often, a family participates in a microschool while legally homeschooling, or being enrolled in a private or online school.
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