Yellowstone Students Funding - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Yellowstone Students Funding

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WYOMING -

The federal government won't pay to educate kids who live in Yellowstone, so a group of citizens there want Park County and the state of Wyoming to foot the bill. That request came in the form of a petition revealed in Cody this week

For decades, children of people who worked in Mammoth, Yellowstone, went to school in the nearby town of Gardiner, Montana, or in a school in Mammoth. The Interior Department paid the Gardiner school district, as much as $500,000 a year in recent years.

But, now, the Interior says it can't pay the Gardiner School district anymore, because federal law says any county that receives Payment of Lieu of Taxes money must pay its own school costs. Mammoth, Yellowstone, where the students live, is in Park County Wyoming. Park County receives PILT money.

Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash explained why the citizens think Park County should pay, "Wyoming state laws says, the entire state shall be divided into unified school districts.

108 people sent a petition to the Park County Commissioners, asking for clarification from the state Attorney General, and funding from Park County.

Park County Commission Chair Bucky Hall said, "It's in the hands of the state attorney general's office at this time. We turned it over to our county attorney, because it's a very complicated issue. And he in turn has been communicating back and forth with the state AG's office."

Hall says he's gotten calls from parents in Mammoth.

He said, "We need to make sure that these children receive an education. Everyone's okay with that, but at this point I don't even know what the county's options are."

Questioned Friday, Wyoming's Attorney General Peter Michael replied that the state only yesterday received a legal memorandum from the Department of the Interior. He said, "We are researching the law, as is the Park County Attorney. We do not have an answer yet."

Wyoming isn't the only state being asked to pay for Park employee's children's education. A similar issue exists in West Yellowstone, Montana.