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HSCSD Board approves CWC-BOCHES budget

At the May Hot Springs County School District Board meeting, Mathew Johnson presented the proposed 2022-23 budget for the Central Wyoming College Board of Cooperative Higher Educational Services (CWC-BOCHES), approved on first reading by the CWC-BOCHES board of trustees during their April 25 meeting.

Because CWC-BOCHES is a partnership between Central Wyoming College and the Hot Springs and Fremont county school districts, the Hot Springs County School District board of trustees was requested to review and approve this budget, and communicate its approval through its board representative at the next CWC-BOCHES board meeting in June.

Johnson summed up its purpose as providing post-secondary opportunities for high school students through methods such as dual and concurrent enrollment, as well as placement testing for math and science courses, and assured the Hot Springs County School Board that the CWC-BOCHES monies for the Hot Springs and Fremont county school districts are raised, kept and spent separately.

“You’re currently levying four-tenths of a mill for the BOCHES,” Johnson said. “The anticipated increase in the mill levy valuation is about 46%. I would ask the board to consider continuing to levy four-tenths. We don’t need to go up to five-tenths to cover operational costs. If we stay at four-tenths, this would allow us to build just a little bit more of a cushion into the reserve fund, should property valuation go down, as in the recent past.”

Johnson reported the total number of dual and concurrent credits that Hot Springs County students earned in 2021-22 as 564 credits, adding, “When you put that in tuition and fees dollars, that’s a value of $87,984 that Hot Springs County students and their families will save.”

Johnson cited Wyoming statutes mandating that students must have the opportunity to earn 12 credits by the time they graduate high school, and estimated 84-85% of Hot Springs County High School students are earning at least one credit before they graduate, with two students this year even earning their associate’s degrees alongside their high school diplomas.

Johnson alluded to how CWC-BOCHES has been expanding into orientation courses to develop college study habits, classes to enhance students’ skills with computers and online applications, and concentrations on applied mathematics and integrating CNC machining into construction.

Johnson was also pleased to report the restoration of public speaking to the subjects offered by CWC-BOCHES, while Hot Springs County School Board Clerk Joe Martinez wondered aloud why Johnson had shifted from recommending three-tenths, at the most recent CWC-BOCHES board meeting Martinez had attended.

“There’s been some recent years where valuation has gone down fairly substantially,” Johnson said. “We do see these swings every now and again, so (it would help) if we could have just a little bit more reserve funding, in case we do see a downturn in the near future, but three-tenths would cover the operating costs for the program.”

Given that the difference between three-tenths and four-tenths amounts to an estimated $16,000, some board members were curious where else that money might be able to go, but Johnson confirmed it would remain in CWC-BOCHES regardless.

Hot Springs County School Board Treasurer Nichole Weyer lauded Johnson for the restraint she sees CWC-BOCHES exercising with taxpayer dollars, while Board Chair Sherman Skelton touted it as a useful tool to furnish Hot Springs County High School graduates with both college and career readiness.

The board ultimately approved the budget presented by Johnson, complete with the four-tenths of a mill levy.


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