State v. Campbell County School Dist., No. 00-120

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtBefore LEHMAN, C.J.; GOLDEN and KITE, JJ.; and DAN SPANGLER, (Ret.).
PartiesSTATE of Wyoming, et al., Appellants (Defendants), v. CAMPBELL COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Appellees (Plaintiffs). Campbell County School District, State of Wyoming, et al., Appellants (Plaintiffs/Intervening Plaintiffs), v. State of Wyoming, et al., Appellees (Defendants). Big Horn County School District No. One, State of Wyoming, et al., Appellants (Intervening Defendants), v. Campbell County School District, State of Wyoming, et al., Appellees (Plaintiffs). State of Wyoming, et al., Appellants (Defendants), v. Campbell County School District, State of Wyoming, et al., Appellees (Plaintiffs).
Decision Date23 February 2001
Docket Number No. 00-123., No. 00-122, No. 00-121, No. 00-120

19 P.3d 518
2001 WY 19

STATE of Wyoming, et al., Appellants (Defendants),
v.
CAMPBELL COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Appellees (Plaintiffs).
Campbell County School District, State of Wyoming, et al., Appellants (Plaintiffs/Intervening Plaintiffs),
v.
State of Wyoming, et al., Appellees (Defendants).
Big Horn County School District No. One, State of Wyoming, et al., Appellants (Intervening Defendants),
v.
Campbell County School District, State of Wyoming, et al., Appellees (Plaintiffs).
State of Wyoming, et al., Appellants (Defendants),
v.
Campbell County School District, State of Wyoming, et al., Appellees (Plaintiffs)

Nos. 00-120, 00-121, 00-122, 00-123.

Supreme Court of Wyoming.

February 23, 2001.

Rehearing Granted March 20, 2001.


19 P.3d 525
Representing State of Wyoming, et al.: Rowena L. Heckert, Deputy Attorney General; Raymond B. Hunkins, Special Assistant Attorney General, of Jones, Jones, Vines & Hunkins, Wheatland, WY; and Jack B. Speight, Robert T. McCue, and Dominique D.Y. Cone of Hathaway, Speight & Kunz, LLC, Cheyenne, WY

Representing Laramie County School District No. One: Paul J. Hickey and Richard D. Bush of Hickey, Mackey, Evans and Walker, Cheyenne, WY.

Representing Natrona County School District No. One: Stuart R. Day and Kevin D. Huber of Williams, Porter, Day & Neville, P.C., Casper, WY.

Representing Campbell County School District, Sweetwater County School District No. One, Sweetwater County School District No. Two, and Uinta County School District No. One: Ford T. Bussart and Marvin L. Tyler of Bussart, West, Piaia & Tyler, Rock Springs, WY.

19 P.3d 526
Representing Teton County School District No. One: Sara E. Van Genderen and R. Michael Mullikin of Mullikin, Larson & Swift LLC, Jackson, WY

Representing Big Horn County School District No. One: Timothy J. Kirven of Kirven and Kirven, P.C., Buffalo, WY; Catherine MacPherson of MacPherson Law Offices, LLC, Rawlins, WY; and Gerald R. Mason of Mason & Graham, P.C., Pinedale, WY.

Representing Wyoming Education Association: Patrick E. Hacker and Gregory P. Hacker of Patrick E. Hacker, P.C., Cheyenne, WY.

Before LEHMAN, C.J.; GOLDEN and KITE, JJ.; and DAN SPANGLER, District Judge (Ret.).

KITE, Justice.

[? 1] The school districts and the Wyoming Education Association (WEA) in these cases challenge the constitutionality of the Wyoming statutes which establish the method for financing the operation and construction of public schools. This court reluctantly concludes that, while great effort has been made by many and some improvement has been achieved, the constitutional mandate for a fair, complete, and equal education "appropriate for the times" in Wyoming has not been fully met. Although these cases were not formally consolidated, we are issuing one opinion because the legal analyses and conclusions apply similarly to the issues raised in all the cases. A single opinion will provide clarity and consistency in this court's direction to the legislative and executive branches of our state's government as those branches continue to work toward a constitutionally acceptable school financing system for Wyoming's youth.

[? 2] As will be more fully developed in the course of this opinion, we hold:

?€” The cost-based model approach chosen by the legislature which relies upon past statewide average expenditures is capable of supporting a constitutional school finance system.
?€” The funding legislation must be modified as follows, on or before July 1, 2002, in order to provide a constitutionally adequate education appropriate for our times:
?€” The model and statute must be adjusted for inflation each biennium, with 1996-97 as the base year, utilizing the Wyoming cost-of-living index (WCLI), beginning in 2002-03, so long as a cost of education model using historic costs is relied upon for the basis of education funding. The legislature shall conduct a review of all components of the model in 2001 and every five years thereafter to assure it remains an accurate reflection of the cost of education.
?€” Administrative and classified salaries must be adjusted to account for differences in experience, responsibility, and seniority.
?€” Cost of maintenance and operation, including utility costs, must be determined by either development of a formula which uses enrollment measured by ADM, building square footage, and number of buildings in the district or actual costs fully reimbursed, subject to state oversight.
?€” Pending future development of an accurate formula with which to distribute adequate funds, actual and necessary costs of educating economically disadvantaged youth and limited English speaking students shall be fully funded, subject to state oversight.
?€” The costs of providing teachers and equipment for vocational and technical training must be included as line items in the MAP model and funded accordingly.
?€” Any small school adjustment must be based on actual differences in costs which are not experienced by larger schools.
?€” Any small school district adjustment must be based on documented shortfalls under the MAP model that are not equally suffered by larger districts.
?€” Statewide average costs must be adjusted for cost-of living differences
19 P.3d 527
using either the entire WCLI or another reasonable formula which includes a full housing component, including the rental of shelter costs, and a medical component to cover costs not included in the benefits portion of the salary component.
?€” Kindergarten Error?€”The legislature, on or before July 1, 2002, shall provide a one-time supplement to fully fund each school district's 1998-99 kindergarten component cost in the total aggregate amount of the $13,930,000 funding error.
?€” Capital Construction?€”The legislature must fund the facilities deemed required by the state for the delivery of the "full basket" to Wyoming students in all locations throughout the state through either a statewide tax or other revenue raising mechanisms equally imposed on all taxpayers.
?€” Capital Construction?€”All facilities must be safe and efficient. Safe and efficient facilities are those that attain a score of 90 or above for building condition, an educational suitability score and technological readiness score of 80 or above, and a score of 4 for building accessibility. The total cost of compliance is $563,099,986. The legislature must provide a plan by July 1, 2002, to remedy these deficiencies within 6 years. "Immediate need" facilities and those facilities that fall below the square footage requirements must be remedied within two years which computes to $164,415,836. Facilities that are deemed "inadequate" must be remedied within four years which computes to $231,309,380. These amounts are measured in 1998 dollars which will need to be adjusted for inflation at such time as the funding is distributed.

ISSUES

[? 3] The issues raised by all the parties are summarized as follows:

1. Is the cost-based block grant model a constitutionally adequate tool?
2. Were the inputs and adjustments cost-based?
3. Do the statutes governing capital construction provide a constitutional means to achieve capital construction funding?

FACTS

[? 4] The battle over the school finance system in Wyoming has been waged since the 1970s and continues today. Our collective inability to develop a solution to this legal, social, and political problem in a constitutionally satisfactory manner stems from the complexity of the issues, the importance of the education of our children to all our citizens, and the historical dominance of local control over public education.1 Over the years, public education has been funded primarily by local property taxes with growing state general fund appropriations and some federal funding. By the 1970s, the discrepancy in the level of funding across the state was striking.2 Sweetwater County Planning Committee for Organization of School Districts v. Hinkle, 491 P.2d 1234, 1237 (Wyo.

19 P.3d 528
1971). We recognized these inequities thirty years ago in Hinkle, which involved two school districts fighting over inclusion of the Bairoil school district in their districts in order to enhance their tax bases. Noting that such inequities were unconstitutional, this court stated
If ad valorem taxes for school purposes were equalized throughout the state, as required by Art. 1, ? 28, Wyoming Constitution, and by the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, cases such as the one being dealt with would not arise.

491 P.2d at 1236-37 (footnote omitted).

[? 5] As long ago as Hinkle, this court reluctantly made suggestions to the legislature of ways in which the constitutional problems could be addressed by a statewide financing system. Almost ten years passed without improvement. By 1980, the situation was actually worse, and this court declared the entire school finance system unconstitutional in Washakie County School District Number One v. Herschler, 606 P.2d 310 (Wyo.1980). That decision concurred with Hinkle in holding that disparities were dramatic and a system based principally upon local property taxes, whereby property poor districts have less total revenue per student than property rich districts, fails to afford equal protection in violation of the state constitution. Washakie further determined that education was a fundamental right under the Wyoming Constitution and wealth based classifications with regard to this right were subject to the strict scrutiny test, which placed the burden on the state to prove a compelling state interest is served by the classification that cannot be satisfied by any other convenient legal structure. The court expressly held, "whatever system is adopted by the legislature, it must not create a level of spending which is a function of wealth other than the wealth of the state as a whole." Washakie, 606 P.2d at 336.

[? 6] Although Washakie was focused on operational financing, the holding was...

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15 practice notes
  • Lake View Sch. Dist. No. 25 v. Huckabee, No. 01-836.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • November 21, 2002
    ...under its Education Article). Similarly, the Wyoming Supreme Court affirmed an earlier decision in State v. Campbell County Sch. Dist., 19 P.3d 518 (2001), and reiterated that "[b]ecause education is a fundamental right and our citizens are entitled to equal protection under our state const......
  • Delawareans for Educ. Opportunity v. Carney, C.A. No. 2018-0029-VCL
    • United States
    • Court of Chancery of Delaware
    • November 27, 2018
    ...education clause "placed the burden on the State's Legislature to provide for the public schools"); State v. Campbell Cty. Sch. Dist. , 19 P.3d 518, 559 (Wyo. 2001) ("We again affirm that the state bears the burden of funding and providing constitutionally adequate facilities to school dist......
  • Gordon v. State, S-17-0173
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • March 22, 2018
    ...has the constitutional duty to declare unconstitutional that which transgresses the state constitution. State v. Campbell Cty. Sch. Dist ., 2001 WY 19, ¶ 55, 19 P.3d 518, 540 (Wyo. 2001) (citing Rose v. Council for Better Educ. Inc ., 790 S.W.2d 186, 209 (Ky. 1989) ("The judiciary has the u......
  • Davis v. State Dakota, Nos. 25330
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • August 31, 2011
    ...Supreme Court recognized that historical costs can be a starting point in State v. Campbell County School District ( Campbell Cnty. II ), 19 P.3d 518 (Wyo.2001). After determining that Wyoming's funding formula was unconstitutional in Campbell County I, the court directed the Wyoming Legisl......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Lake View Sch. Dist. No. 25 v. Huckabee, No. 01-836.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • November 21, 2002
    ...under its Education Article). Similarly, the Wyoming Supreme Court affirmed an earlier decision in State v. Campbell County Sch. Dist., 19 P.3d 518 (2001), and reiterated that "[b]ecause education is a fundamental right and our citizens are entitled to equal protection under our state const......
  • Delawareans for Educ. Opportunity v. Carney, C.A. No. 2018-0029-VCL
    • United States
    • Court of Chancery of Delaware
    • November 27, 2018
    ...education clause "placed the burden on the State's Legislature to provide for the public schools"); State v. Campbell Cty. Sch. Dist. , 19 P.3d 518, 559 (Wyo. 2001) ("We again affirm that the state bears the burden of funding and providing constitutionally adequate facilities to school dist......
  • Gordon v. State, S-17-0173
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • March 22, 2018
    ...has the constitutional duty to declare unconstitutional that which transgresses the state constitution. State v. Campbell Cty. Sch. Dist ., 2001 WY 19, ¶ 55, 19 P.3d 518, 540 (Wyo. 2001) (citing Rose v. Council for Better Educ. Inc ., 790 S.W.2d 186, 209 (Ky. 1989) ("The judiciary has the u......
  • Davis v. State Dakota, Nos. 25330
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • August 31, 2011
    ...Supreme Court recognized that historical costs can be a starting point in State v. Campbell County School District ( Campbell Cnty. II ), 19 P.3d 518 (Wyo.2001). After determining that Wyoming's funding formula was unconstitutional in Campbell County I, the court directed the Wyoming Legisl......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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