Superintendent won't be staying

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By Carol A. Clark

Having accomplished so much as interim superintendent of the Los Alamos Public Schools, school board members worked vigorously Tuesday to convince Mary McLeod to continue leading the district.

“They tried to get me to stay but I think 45 years in the educational business is enough – it’s time for me to retire,” said Mcleod following her performance evaluation. “It’s been a lot of fun and I wish I were a little younger because I would like to stay longer.”

McLeod began her temporary assignment July 1, following James Anderson's retirement. She did agree to extend her contract by 10 days through July 10 to spend time with the district's yet to be hired superintendent. The board offered her a raise for staying those additional days but McLeod declined saying it wasn’t necessary for such a short time.

School Board President Steve Girrens describes Mcleod as a “blessing” to the schools and the community at large. “Mary stepped in at a critical time and made herself available, especially in light of the bond and state funding issues.”

Girrens praised McLeod for putting together a compelling case that convinced legislatures of the detrimental impact a state funding formula change would have on above average performing students in the state .

In November, McLeod took on the 29-member Legislative Education Study Committee that met at the state capitol and convinced them to hold harmless LAPS from a bill that would have cost the district nearly $3 million in state revenues.

"I just decided to put the stuff on the table that I knew they'd talk about...I talked about the elephant in the room - the $8 million...it's categorical funding...it's given to us by DOE because we have a task to perform and that is to be the best school district we can be...to attract the best employees for the laboratory...," McLeod said at the time.

She received an enthusiastic standing ovation from the board of education as well as from the audience attending a school board meeting in the library at Aspen Elementary School following her victory.

McLeod conducted in depth research on the proposed funding formula and went before the committee prepared to present concrete facts as to why LAPS should be held harmless from the proposed funding formula. The committee agreed with her logic and assured her the district would be held harmless in perpetuity.

Parent and school volunteer Alison Walters attended that meeting and commended McLeod to the board. “Since day one of her taking over the position of superintendent, Mary has been focused on this huge problem. She immediately recognized how seriously this bill might impact our district,” Waters said at the time. “She has worked tirelessly to understand the ramifications, collect data, analyze the new formula, with help from Ken Johnson (board member), and put together a presentation to provide the senators with facts to persuade them to amend the bill. Essentially she pressed for a ‘hold harmless’ clause, into perpetuity and with a cost inflation factor to be included. But she went further than this and argued for our students.”

Girrens also commended McLeod for her efforts toward last month’s passage of a bond to help maintain the schools’ aging facilities. “She has successfully communicated an increased awareness of the need for support of our schools to the community,” he said. “She has been a real blessing.”