Slade Elementary design

Designs for a new Slade Elementary have essentially been complete since 2015.

After the Legislature released $19.2 million this session for a rebuild of Slade Elementary, construction should begin next year and be completed in 2022, Albany County School District No. 1 Superintendent Jubal Yennie told the Boomerang.

“That’s speculating on getting everything going forward pretty nicely,” he said.

Designs for the elementary school have long been essentially complete, and Yennie said those will need to have some finishing touches put on before final approval by the state Construction Department.

“It will probably be about 2-4 months for the completion of the documents before we think about going out to bid,” he said.

It was six years ago when the Legislature appropriated $1.7 million for the school’s designs. Construction was put on hold after Wyoming’s economic downturn began in 2015.

Slade got lucky this year. In the final days of the session, a drop in oil prices and rising fears of COVID-19 helped inspire legislators to kill all funding for new capital construction.

However, funding for Slade had already been finalized by both chambers weeks prior as part of the main budget bill.

Coming into this budget session, the Legislature’s Select Committee on School Facilities had recommended finally rebuilding Slade. However, Gov. Mark Gordon had recommended, again, denying the funding for Slade’s rebuild.

The Senate Appropriations Committee stripped out funding when the budget bill reached the Senate, but Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, was able to convince his colleagues to restore funding in a late-minute amendment.

Rothfuss noted that Slade was rated as the highest priority in the state by the state Construction Department for being remedied for its “condition score” — the ratings system used to prioritize K-12 buildings that need that be replaced because of age or other concerns about their fitness for serving as schools.

“We have a process in place which is important for us to continue, and that’s that we go in order of the queue,” Rothfuss said.

The Senate narrowly voted in favor of Rothfuss’s on a 15-13 vote. Two senators were absent. Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, changed his vote from “no” to “aye” at the last moment to give the final vote to ensure passage of Rothfuss’s amendment.

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