By Kathy Brown
Gillette News Record
Via Wyoming News Exchange
GILLETTE — It was pretty much par for the course for Campbell County School District trustees in approving the district’s 2019 fiscal year budgets.
Except for one thing — $11.3 million of one thing.
That’s the amount of recapture money the Campbell County School District will send to the state of Wyoming in 2019, about a 301 percent increase from a year ago.
It’s something the school district has done since 1984 as one of the richest districts in the state. The money is put into the state’s School Foundation program to pay for schools and student education statewide on an equal basis, something no other state incorporates.
Every year as they approve their budget, trustees make sure to note of contribution of Campbell County to K-12 education in Wyoming. They want to make sure no one forgets or overlooks the effort.
So as trustees approved budgets for four different boards last week, including the Board of Cooperative Higher Education Services, the Campbell County Recreation Project Joint Powers Board, the Campbell County Public Recreation District and the school district, they paused for that purpose once again.
“Eleven million dollars in recapture? That puts us over $1 billion, I think,” Trustee Lisa Durgin said, pointing out how much money Campbell County has given the state in total since recapture began 34 years ago.
Actually, to date the district has sent in $945.7 million, said Dennis Holmes, associate superintendent for instructional support. That includes the 2018-19 school year.
Campbell County is the essence of how the state provides equal funding for the education of students statewide, Durgin said. That’s something “the state does well,” she said, with a big hand-up from Campbell County.
“It’s one example of the way in which Campbell County has helped schools all across the state to flourish,” she said.
The sudden increase in recapture money being paid by Campbell County isn’t just because of an improving economy.
Much of it is the result of a recent agreement with Alpha Natural Resources and Campbell County over back taxes. Under that agreement, the county will receive $8.67 million owed in taxes from 2015 and 2016. Most of that money will go to the school district.
But it won’t be able to use any of that money, Deputy Superintendent Kirby Eisenhauer said.
“Campbell County School District will not be able to utilize those funds and it will be sent back to the state in recapture,” he told trustees.