LAPS board hammers out Schmidt's new contract

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LAPS: Title IX language to be added

Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Gene Schmidt’s new two-year contract begins July 1, but before it goes into effect, the Board of Education is hoping to hammer out one fine detail.

The board initially awarded Schmidt the contract back in January.

School Board member Melanie McKinley said the board recently returned from a school law conference in Albuquerque where she learned that new requirements regarding Title IX federal funding would be enforced this year.

That includes a new requirement that figures-based data regarding the New Mexico Schools Athletics Equity Act be posted online Oct. 31 if the district fails to be in compliance with the law.

“This is the first year we have to post all the information online,” McKinley said.

In order to comply with federal laws and be eligible for federal funding, public schools must offer equal athletic opportunities for girls and boys. The law aims to give schools and their communities the information they need to promote equal opportunity in their schools’ athletic programs.

McKinley said she wanted to see wording included in Schmidt’s contract stating that failure to comply with the law could be grounds for dismissal. She said the wording is like a “heads up” because of the new reporting requirements.

“We don’t want him to be surprised by this,” she said.

Schmidt said the language was suggested not because the district isn’t in compliance or is in danger of falling out of compliance, but that rather because it was a special interest of the board after returning from a law conference where the Athletic Equity Act was highlighted.

“I think if that ends up in the contract, it’s because that’s of high interest to the board,” he said. “The bigger question is that superintendent follows all laws whether it be special (education) or Title IX or the office of civil rights and what’s paramount is educating children.”

Schmidt said he feels very good about the additional language as well as the nuance updates and changes in wording.

“We do Title IX really well making sure everyone’s attended to,” he said.

Schmidt said the contract is a typical superintendent’s contract in New Mexico and wants to ensure due diligence is done before the contract is signed. The contract calls for Schmidt to get paid $142,000 per year.

McKinley said it’s important that the district is in compliance with not only this particular law but other state and federal laws.

“This is one where I didn’t want there to any reason to say ‘wow – I just didn’t realize that these were the numbers,” she said.

The board approved the contract pending review by the district’s legal counsel. This is Schmidt’s first contract renewal. He received a three-year contract when he was brought on board with the district in 2009.

McKinley said in previous years the district had merely used an evaluation system for administrators, but she sees more and more schools are tailoring employee evaluations to their superintendent’s job descriptions, and now Los Alamos is also working to update its process.

“It’s an ongoing process and we’re working out a few bugs,” she said.

She said the process includes staff and teacher surveys as well as for the first time publicizing Schmidt’s annual goals for the district.

“It’s important for our community to know what to expect of our superintendent with transparency in the process,” McKinley said.

Surveys are passed out in December and the superintendent evaluation process occurs in January.