Albany County School District No. 1 will open another rural elementary school this fall for a single child who’s set to begin kindergarten. The child’s younger sibling is also set to attend the school in two years.
The “new” school is actually a re-opening of Cozy Hollow School off Tunnel Road — northeast of the Wheatland Reservoirs.
That school, which has previously served the same family, was closed about a decade ago.
Reopening Cozy Hollow School is necessary now “that the generations have come around, so to speak,” ACSD No. 1 business manager Ed Goetz told the school board on Wednesday.
Wyoming statutes require school districts to provide on-site schools for isolated students when transportation to other schools in not possible.
Cozy Hollow has operated off-and-on for much of the last century, and the district still owns a modular on the site.
“That’s in pretty good condition,” Goetz said. “It will need some work. We’ll need to get some furniture up there.”
ACSD No. 1 operates a second one-student school, Notch Peak Elementary, in a nearby area.
However, the district considers it impractical to transport Cozy Hollow’s students to Notch Peak since the roads connecting the two are impassible for much of the winter.
Superintendent Jubal Yennie said the district would likely need to hire a new teacher for the school.
Between Notch Peak and Cozy Hollow, the district will need to spend about $150,000 teaching just two students next year.
“That’s mind-blowing,” school board member Nate Martin said.
Martin noted that such rural schools unfortunately compound Wyoming’s unusually high cost per student.
With more than $17,000 spent per student annually, Wyoming’s per capita costs are about double that of Colorado.
Martin noted those numbers are often political fodder for legislators who want more education cuts and allege Wyoming schools are inefficient.
The state’s annual cost per student at elementary schools in Laramie is typically less than $15,000.
When Yennie first became superintendent, he said the district experimented with live-streaming instruction to an isolated student.
“We’ve tried that and it did not work well — especially with an elementary-aged child,” he said.