School superintendent signs new two-year contract

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LAPS: Schmidt earns praise for leadership

By Carol A. Clark

The New Year began on a high note for Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Gene Schmidt.

The board of education on Tuesday unanimously approved a new two-year contract for Schmidt. Board Secretary Judy Bjarke-McKenzie was absent from the meeting and did not cast a vote.

“This really reflects the board’s overall satisfaction with Dr. Schmidt’s performance and it is an endorsement of his leadership as we develop and implement our strategic improvement plan,” said Board President Melanie McKinley.

McKinley explained that LAPS administrators will not receive pay raises until the district can afford to increase teacher salaries. Schmidt’s annual salary remains at $142,000.

This morning, the superintendent reflected on the board’s vote of confidence.

“It is truly an honor for me to serve as the educational leader of Los Alamos Public Schools and I appreciate the board allowing me two more years to continue that leadership,” Schmidt said, adding that he sees a bright future for LAPS.

“Watch for us to reach out to increase partnership opportunities with UNM-LA and with Los Alamos National Laboratory over the next two years,” Schmidt said. “We are also excited that construction is complete at the high school and now we will turn our focus to construction at the middle school.”

Schmidt said that over the next two years the district will move its strategic improvement plan from the planning stage to implementation.

“We’re also looking at transitioning from the New Mexico standards to the broader, common core educational standards,” he said. “And my personal goal is to get out to the school buildings more in the next two years. What our teachers are doing is so impressive and I want to spend more time around them – I wouldn’t give any one of them away.”

Schmidt’s personal mantra is to “front load for success,” and he said that his professional goal for the district is to enhance its reputation as one of the elite school systems in the nation.

“Something I want the community to know is that my wife Wendy and I have come to care so much for this community and we have really come to feel that we are a part of it,” he said.

Schmidt took over leadership of the district from Mary McLeod following her July 8, 2009 retirement.. McLeod served in the top job for one year while a search committee combed the country for the right person to replace longtime Superintendent James Anderson.