Park County officials to reconsider district boundary, funding plan for Yellowstone students

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CODY, Wyoming — Park County officials have scheduled a July 21 meeting to reconsider a plan to have Wyoming cover the costs of educating the children of Yellowstone National Park employees who live in Mammoth Hot Springs.

For decades, the federal government covered the bill for the few dozen northern Wyoming youngsters to attend the public schools in nearby Gardiner, Montana. Recently, however, federal officials said they would stop paying for their education and that they shouldn't have been making the payments all along.

Wyoming officials have promised to pick up the tab. Under their plan, state funds would go to the school district in Powell, which would transfer the funds to the school system in Gardiner to cover the costs of teaching the students.

For the plan to take effect, however, the Powell school district would need to redraw its boundaries to include northern Yellowstone.

Local officials in Park County initially endorsed the idea. Lately, however, they've grown worried that the federal government could hold the Powell school district responsible for repaying past costs of educating the students, the Powell Tribune reports ( ).

A school district boundary board made up of the Park County commissioners, assessor and treasurer had recommended including Yellowstone in the school district. Board members have a couple lingering questions, however.

They included whether the school district could be indemnified against repaying education costs incurred by the federal government.

That could take an act of Congress. Meanwhile, County Commissioner Tim French said Monday that he expects several board members to vote against redrawing the school district boundaries "just to make a statement."

"At this point, unless I hear something different, I'm going to vote against it," he said.

The meeting will be held at the Park County Courthouse in Cody.

Information from: Powell (Wyo.) Tribune,

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