Kost, Northrup selected for education advisory group – Powell Tribune

Gov. Mark Gordon put together an advisory committee last month that is tasked with examining education in Wyoming and setting it on a course for the future. The committee includes Sen. R.J. Kost, R-Powell, and David Northrup, a former state representative from the Willwood area who previously chaired the House Education Committee.

In a statement last month, Gordon said the Reimagining and Innovating the Delivery of Education (RIDE) Advisory Group will study and develop recommendations for elevating Wyoming’s primary and secondary education system into a position of national leadership.

“We’re looking at education overall,” Kost explained. “Is education serving the purpose we need in Wyoming, or do we need to look at changes?”

In the wake of falling revenues, the state is struggling to fund K-12 education, but Kost said the group isn’t wrestling with financial issues at the moment. The first thing they’re trying to do is look at what the school districts are doing well and where improvements can be made, based on the input they’re getting from board members.

Once they have an idea of what needs to be done to move education in the state forward, Kost said, they can look at the financial considerations. 

“This is not about affordability until we see what we need and how to make that the best that we can,” Kost said. 

Kost added that the recommendations they develop will also likely prove to be financially beneficial to the state’s education system. 

The group just started meeting, Northrup said, so it’s in its preliminary stages of discussion. At some point in the future, they plan to hold community listening sessions to gather input from stakeholders outside the board members.

“Then the communities can chime in and give us their opinions on education in Wyoming — the good, the bad, and the ugly,” Northrup said.

Northrup said the group contains a good mix of various stakeholders, including parents, teachers, legislators and industry representatives. 

Other committee members include: Rep. Evan Simpson, R-Afton; Cheyenne lawyer John Masters; Sheridan school district Superintendent Craig Dougherty; Jill Bramlet, an education leadership consultant for Cognia; Tronox Alkali Vice President of Manufacturing Fred von Ahrens; Mammoth Networks CEO Brian Worthen; Casper Area Education Foundation President Thea True Wells; and Nicole Novotny Smith, administrator of the Wyoming Department of Revenue’s Liquor Division.

“I have asked these individuals to take a comprehensive look at our education system to see how we can improve it,” Gordon said in his statement. “This is critical work, and I appreciate each of them committing their time to give it their attention, expertise and full consideration.”