At their regular monthly board meeting, the Sheridan County School District 2 Board of Trustees voted to approve moving the Fort Mackenzie/Wright Place campus from its current location at Sheridan Junior High to the old Highland Park Elementary School.
The old Highland Park school is currently housing students from Coffeen Elementary. However, those students will vacate the building when the new Henry A. Coffeen Elementary School is completed.
SCSD 2 Superintendent Craig Dougherty said that student enrollment at FMHS and The Wright Place will soon be too large to be accommodated at the junior high. The ACE Behavioral Program will also be moved to the new location at old Highland Park. It is currently housed in modular buildings behind the old Woodland Park Elementary School.
Dougherty noted that the district eventually hopes to acquire state funding to build a new campus facility for FMHS and The Wright Place.
The board also unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by board chair Richard Bridger relating to collecting severance taxes on gas that is flared on School Trust Lands.
There is currently a loophole in state law allowing producers to avoid paying severance taxes on gas that is flared or vented.
The resolution notes that, “A fiduciary responsibility of the State Lands Board is to ensure that the Common School Fund receives fair value from minerals production from trust lands through collection of royalties. Constitutionally, Wyoming is required to collect a portion of severance tax and once the producer has removed the gas from the ground, it has severed the gas from the state’s nonrenewable stores of wealth. It is fair, right, and just to collect severance taxes, whether the gas is sold, vented, or flared.”
At the board’s January meeting, State Representative Mike Madden explained to the board that oil companies only pay taxes on resources that are sold. In the case of natural gas, oil companies sometimes flare or vent gases rather than sell the product and pay taxes. This bill attempts to close the loophole and apply taxes to flared or vented gas on state School Trust Lands. Now that it has been approved by SCSD 2, the resolution will go to the Wyoming School Board Association for support and possible introduction to the state Revenue Committee next year.
In other business, the board accepted a $600 donation from John Patton to be used for expenses related to We the People Sheridan High School students competing at the national competition in Washington D.C. in April and $500 from ExxonMobil and the Education Alliance Program for the math department at Sheridan High School.