School board may add three teachers

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By Tris DeRoma


To take the pressure off class sizes in two elementary schools and the middle school, the Los Alamos School Board is looking to hire three more teachers.

According to Gerry Washburn, the school system’s assistant superintendent and human resources director, one teacher will go to Los Alamos Middle School, one will go to Barranca Mesa and the other will go to Aspen. 

Their compensation will average $80,000 each, depending on their level of experience and benefits packages according to the schools chief financial officer, John Wolfe. 

The board and the administration have been working on the plan for some time, as they balance such factors such as ballooning class sizes in the lower grades and overall declining enrollment against hiring and layoffs. 

Wolfe said the school’s roughly $35 million 2014/15 budget  (figures are still being finalized) should be able to accommodate the three teachers against the impending retirements of teachers and staff. 

“The hope would be we could keep them through attrition,” Wolfe said. “If we have need for one less teacher, they wouldn’t be it, they’d be taken care of through another teacher retiring,” he said. 

Board President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie, a former teacher, said it was a necessary move.

“By all means, we need to do this.” she said at the meeting. “The younger the kids are  the more you need smaller class sizes so you can get to each and every one. Here I had 29 students and no (teacher’s aide) and it was very hard.”

Funding for the teachers may come out of the district’s lease fund, which includes rental revenue from the former school properties it owns, which includes the future home of the new Smith’s grocery store.