Students at independent high schools around Teton County can play sports on Jackson Hole High School teams, but at least one school board member thinks it’s not a great deal for the school district.

The Teton County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees approved a memorandum of understanding Tuesday that continues independent schools’ ability to pay a fee for their students to play on high school sports teams and participate in other activities. The private schools pay $1,000 for each student who partakes, based on the average number of participants over the past three years.

The agreement has been in place since 2015, and Superintendent Gillian Chapman recommended simply extending it. Trustee Bill Scarlett, the only board member who voted against the extension, opposed it, saying the district wasn’t being paid enough per participant.

“I said this a couple years ago — I don’t think we are being paid nearly what we should for this,” Scarlett said during the board’s Tuesday meeting.

Chapman told the board it costs the district an average of $1,600 for each Jackson Hole High School student who participates in a sport or activity. The state reimburses $691 of that cost.

For private school students, the $1,000 paid by their institutions doesn’t cover the entire $1,600. Scarlett opposed the memorandum on those grounds. He also inquired about whether those students are held to the same educational standards as public high school students.

“They send me grade reports at the same time we collect those for our students,” Activities Director Mike Hansen said.

Hansen said the standards for private school students are the same as for public school ones, but that doesn’t quite extend to homeschool students. The district can’t collect fees for homeschool students who wish to join sports or activities. Wyoming High School Activities Association rules say those students simply need to have a composite score in the 25th percentile on “any nationally norm referenced achievement test” once per year.

Scarlett also asked about liability should a student be injured. Hansen told him that the independent schools are required to pay for their students’ coverage through the WHSAA insurance program, just as public schools do.

In the end, Scarlett still wasn’t convinced, but six of his colleagues were. The memorandum was extended for three years, though any of the schools can cancel it at any time.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

(1) comment

Merritt Dana

Bill Scarlett is the only board member who gets it. Private schools rate their success by post graduation achievements like high paying jobs or starting new companies, and they ignore the most important issues of our time like social justice and climate change. What good are high paying jobs and new businesses, if we don't leave a clean planet to future generations?!!! Don't get me started on homeschoolers who value their own families above our community. Private schools and homeschooling should be illegal. Thank you Trustee Scarlet for standing up for our community!

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