LAPS and UNM-LA set positive course

-A A +A
By Carol A. Clark

A spirit of collaboration is emerging between Los Alamos Public Schools and UNM-Los Alamos, replacing a climate of contention between the institutions during the last couple of years.The relationship began to strain after it came to light that UNM-LA was paying $1 dollar per year to LAPS to lease a building, which they in turn subleased to Los Alamos National Laboratory for $60,000 a year.Several new board members, a new executive director at the college and a new high school principal seem to have risen above bad feelings and joined forces to benefit students at both institutions.During Tuesday's school board meeting, LAPS Curriculum Director Kate Thomas explained that she, Los Alamos High School Principal Grace Brown, UNM-LA Executive Director Cedric Page and others began meeting in October. Brown, Page and Thomas took several teachers down to the Public Education Department in Santa Fe where they learned about two intriguing grants that could benefit both schools. One was the Carl Perkins Grant, in which they may partner with Pojoaque. The other is the Tech Prep Grant."The Tech Prep Grant is what we really want," Thomas told the board. "The Tech Prep Grant has four tech career pathways starting in middle school."The four pathways in the five-year grant include culinary, engineering, information technology and auto shop."UNM-LA offers welding and we offer auto shop," Thomas said. "Cedric is going to try to get the professors to attend a session and work out the information for the grant. We can write that grant for $300,000 to $400,000."On Nov. 7, Assistant Superintendent Mary McLeod met with the group to discuss the potential. The grant pays the salary for new personnel relevant to the pathways, such as a culinary teacher, but the district would have to absorb any salaries following year five when the grant funding ends, Thomas said."I think it's awesome - I think it's really great," LAPS Board President Alison Beckman said. "It's important to know that this grant isn't just for trades."Beckman explained students can earn Cisco and Microsoft certifications through the IT pathway, which will help them get into good colleges.As a requirement of the grant, Page, Thomas and Brown are developing an advisory committee, which must be filled with people in the trades, Thomas said.Board member Ken Johnson mentioned the school board actually started the collaborative dialog leading to potential partnering between the schools as a way to avoid raising rent to the college."If this works out, this is much better than charging UNM-LA more rent," Johnson said. In other matters, Superintendent Jim Anderson discussed the Trinity Site Development project. "We're really close to having the documents we would be ready to present to the board," he said. "There's just some minor clean up things to be done."Anderson told the board three documents relating to the project will be posted on the district's website today at www.laschools.net. The Master Ground Lease Agreement, the Agreement Regarding Leases and Conveyances of Real Property for the Trinity Revitalization Project, and the Airport Basin Facilities Lease Agreement."The school board will not vote on these three documents until you have the opportunity to review the agreement between the county and Boyer Company," Anderson told board members, adding once the documents are passed, that triggers the timeline to go to the public for a vote. Beckman expressed some concerns she has such as making sure the agreement has enough "teeth" to discourage Boyer from backing out of the deal. She also wanted to make sure the agreements weren't already cast in cement, saying she wants the public to be able to have input that will be considered. The board will review the three documents and revisit the issue at their next meeting. Beckman, Johnson, Steve Girrens and Jody Benson voted 4-0 to table a vote on Policy 8365 Concerns/Complaints to the School Board until a future meeting. Board member Joan Ahlers was absent.Girrens briefed the board on the latest activities of the Facilities Planning Committee saying they plan to present their district wide plan to the public in January. Students arriving at school on empty stomachs and those without money for lunch will be the topic of a survey the district is preparing to send out to parents. A woman from the audience said there could be as many as 80 students or possible more throughout the district in need of food. Discussion indicated it costs some $540 per year to provide lunch for one student.The board expressed their desire to help subsidize meals for needy students and plan to work to find the mechanism to provide that help, based on the survey findings.The board was delighted when LAPS Purchasing Manager June Gladney told them her department saved the district $50,000 by renegotiating a Xerox contract.Business Manager John Wolfe presented a preliminary end of the year business report for 2006-07.Regarding staff development, Thomas said from the first of the year to present, 1,513 LAPS employees have participated in staff development programs. "The teachers are working so hard," Thomas said. "We get so much talent from our teachers." The board recognized Chamisa teachers Laura Gallimore and Becky Sims for earning their National Board Certifications.The next board meeting will be held at 6 p.m., Nov. 29 at Aspen Elementary School. The meeting is open to the public.

Teachers earn National Board Certification

Laura Gallimore and Becky Sims, both primary teachers at Chamisa, passed their National Board Certification. They will go from Level II to Level III New Mexico licensure.In many states, this certification provides entrance into all leadership roles and positions, has increased pay and stipends attached to it, and is universally accepted as licensure in any state and in many other nations.Both are master teachers who demonstrate the high standards required of Nationally Board Certified Teachers. There are now four teachers at Chamisa who have their NBPTS certification: Debby Smith, Carolyn Torres, Gallimore, and Sims. Los Alamos Public Schools also has a science teacher, Barbara Jo Mullis, who has earned her NBPTS.