CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Small schools can be exempted from Hathaway Scholarship Program requirements for good cause, the Wyoming Senate agreed Thursday.
House Bill 13 comes up for third and final Senate vote Friday. It previously passed the House.
It requires two years each of foreign language, fine and performing arts or career/vocational education for the top-tier Hathaway scholarship.
The amendment clarifying that small schools can receive waivers from the course requirements was in response to senators who said schools in their districts could not offer everything on the list.
HB13 is one of a number of education bills moving through the House and Senate.
The House Education Committee approved two major proposals late Wednesday — the education accountability and teacher accountability bills.
They will now go to the full Senate for debate.
Already awaiting Senate debate are two student assessment bills that will allow the state to use a test other than the flawed Proficiency Assessment for Wyoming Students, or PAWS, and to eliminate writing from the tests, leaving mathematics and reading.
During discussion Wednesday of HB13, Sen. John Schiffer, R-Kaycee, said small schools in his district with 100 to 120 students and only 11 teachers could not meet the course requirements for the top-tier Hathaway scholarship.
On Thursday, Schiffer was the chief sponsor of the amendment to make clear the small schools have another option.
The amendment directs the Wyoming Department of Education to establish exceptions and to waive the requirements if the school district superintendent submits a written certification that any required coursework was not made available to a student in that district.
Supporters of the bill say the more rigorous requirements will better prepare students to get through college.
Meanwhile, the two accountability bills easily passed the House Education Committee late Wednesday.
Testifying for both bills were Kathryn Valido, president of the Wyoming Education Association; Bill Shilling, director of the Wyoming Business Alliance; and Lawrence Anderson, director of the Wyoming School Boards Association.
House Bill 70 establishes a performance system for public schools. House Bill 145 establishes an assessment method for teacher performance.
Gov. Matt Mead and the Department of Education also support the two bills, spokesmen said.
"This is like a love-fest," said Rep. Matt Teeters, R-Lingle, chairman of the House Education Committee.