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Schools move forward during 2007

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By Carol A. Clark

Two of the most significant changes in the educational arena this year include a new high school principal for Los Alamos Public Schools and a new executive director for UNM-Los Alamos.Former Albuquerque Cibola High School Principal Grace Brown replaced Lynne Saccaro in July. Saccaro spent more than a decade in the top job.Cedric Page came to Los Alamos in January from Redmond, Wash., where he served as dean of faculty and senior vice president for academic affairs at the DigiPen Institute of Technology to serve as dean of students. He applied and was selected in July to replace Carlos Ramirez. Ramirez had been in the job more than 20 years.Both Page and Brown appear to be solid selections.UNM-LA Advisory Board member Mike Wismer said, “I categorize Dr. Page as a quiet, effective leader who is going to do great things for us.”LAPS Superintendent Jim Anderson describes Brown as a "great high school principal."Long time LAHS Athletic Director Robert Abney also made a career change this year. He tied up loose ends before embarking on his new career as LAHS vice principal. Following the retirement of Vice Principal Ruth Christiansen, Abney went through the selection process and has become the new vice principal of LAHS.John Wolfe was hired to lead the business office following the abrupt resignation of Business Manager Peter Garcia and Comptroller Sean Trujillo.Wolfe joins LAPS administrative team members Anderson, Assistant Superintendent Mary McLeod, Human Resource Director James Telles, Director of Student Services Rick Mai and Curriculum Director Kate Thomas.Anderson called the principals at all seven LAPS schools "fantastic" and described McLeod as "the best assistant superintendent in the world"."One of the things I'm most proud about this year is the administrative team we've put together," Anderson said. "When we get together we're focused and we're serious and we really talk about how to make things better for our students and for our teachers. In all the years I've been here, this is the best team I've seen. It complements the process we are going through in selecting a new superintendent and in helping the district to move forward."Anderson announced earlier this year that he plans to retire Aug. 1.Besides the hiring of new staff, other memorable events this year include the final results of a law suit filed by the Monitor and New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (FOG) against LAPS and the school board for violation of the Inspection of Public Records Act for withholding a requested memo.District Judge James Hall ruled in March that the memo be released to the Monitor after nearly 18 months and some $30,000 in litigation expenses. The memo described perceived pressure placed on Los Alamos High School teacher Anita Boshier by former school board member Loui Janecky regarding a grade change for her son.A second part of the lawsuit involved a closed meeting held by the board to discuss the situation. Hall ruled that it was okay for the school board to hold an executive session to discuss the teacher's interactions with the school board member and to engage in preliminary discussions of a potential new personnel policy, despite restrictions imposed by the Open Meetings Act. Janecky finished her board term in February and did not seek re-election.This year's newly elected board members are Jody Benson and Joan Ahlers. Newly elected UNM-LA Advisory Board members include Michael Wismer and Marie Chiravalle.A new digital high school sign was installed in late summer thanks to the efforts of Los Alamos Youth Leadership's Team NRG and some $30,000 in funding from Los Alamos High School.