Our View: Anderson era comes to an end

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By The Staff

Dr. James Anderson stepped out of his office at 751 Trinity Drive today and into retirement. As superintendent of Los Alamos Public Schools for 14 years, he leaves behind a proud legacy.

Sen. Pete Domenici recognized this, saying, “Although the school district will certainly miss his leadership, I believe he is leaving a solid foundation for even greater educational growth and development for students and the entire community.”

That is what great leaders do: improve on the past and mentor for the future. Anderson can exit his post confident that he has accomplished that goal. Assistant Superintendent Mary McLeod is stepping into his shoes and as he recently said, “the district is blessed to have someone like Mary McLeod to take over. She won’t skip a beat.”

Los Alamos County Administrator Max Baker said Anderson successfully led the schools for many years and that leadership will be felt long into the future.

“He has been instrumental in locking the annual $8 million grant from the DOE, and has negotiated the long term lease arrangements with Los Alamos County, which will provide additional revenues for school operations,” Baker said.

In covering countless school board meetings during Anderson’s tenure, we have no doubt his decisions were driven by what was best for the students, teachers and community. U.S. Rep. Tom Udall agreed, saying, “For 14 years, James Anderson has been a tireless and effective advocate for Los Alamos students, families and teachers.”

Los Alamos School Board President Steve Girrens describes Anderson as “always having the success of the kids in mind when choosing which direction to go. Jim also gave his full support to making things better for teachers and staff. He attracted outstanding people to our schools and earned a lot of loyalty across the district.”

Anderson’s character and professionalism have been beyond reproach – never a hint of impropriety. That is not always the case in the people we cover. While other districts suffer unethical leaders, poor educational rankings and high turnover rates, our community has earned admiration and respect. This is due in large part to Anderson’s enduring pursuit of excellence.

Even Gov. Bill Richardson paid homage to Anderson saying, “The district’s many achievements, honors and accolades, as well as its reputation as one of the finest school districts in the country are a legacy he can be proud of.”

Helping create the LANL Foundation and LAPS Foundation, assisting in the transfer of the A-8 and A-15 land parcels to LAPS and six bond and referendum elections since 1995 that will have raised more than $52 million are just some of Anderson’s many accomplishments. A highlight of Anderson’s career and a source of pride for Los Alamos is his being elected New Mexico Superintendent of the Year by his peers in 2006.

Anderson has done right by our school district and our community. He has made us proud. So, as we add our farewell wishes to those expressed throughout Los Alamos, the state and Washington, D.C., we say thank you, Dr. Anderson. Thank you for a job well done.