Guild Charter School

Natrona County School District officials spent months in 2015 considering whether to allow a charter school in Casper. It would have been the city's first such school, but concerns about organization and local support ultimately stymied the effort.

Charter schools are publicly funded but operate independently of school districts.

The Guild Charter School would have offered a four-and-a-half-day week, a rigorous math program called Singapore Math, a character-building program, low student-teacher ratios and individualized learning plans.

Many of the ideas for the Guild, such as its focus on classical learning, already exist in the district, though not all in one school.

But though board members endorsed most, if not all, of the Guild's programs and ideas, they thought Tiffany Leary and Wendolyn McGregor, who wrote the 900-page application, had bitten off more than they could chew.

In August, many local parents stood before board officials in support of the school. It was the district’s first public meeting on a charter school. Leary, who visited a charter school in Colorado before co-writing the Guild application, said she broke down in tears when she left the school. She realized that she wanted that caliber of education for her daughter, but it wasn't available in the district.

But weeks later, the grand idea of Casper’s first charter school was shuttered by a unanimous board vote.

Board members pointed to the lack of organized and consistent local support for the Guild. The board also said that the school’s founders had failed to provide an administrative plan for managing a school of that size.

There was also the question of redundancy. The Guild’s curriculum overlapped with existing district programs, like the Gifted and Talented program, board members said.

Originally, the founders said their school was for the best and the brightest in the district. However, the school had been opened to students of all levels. The change concerned the board.

The Guild would have been the fifth charter school in Wyoming.

Many states use public agencies to review charter school applications. But in Wyoming, the choice is ultimately the purview of the district school board. Some question the fairness of Wyoming’s system, which effectively allows school officials to decide the fate of potential competitors.

Follow education reporter Heather Richards on Twitter @hroxaner.

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