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Education

  • Marczak: Innovation is the key

    Monday was busy day for Superintendent candidate Chris Marczak.
    The day started off with an early morning interview on KRSN before heading off to spend the rest of a very long day being interviewed by various school board-appointed subcommittees comprised of parents, teachers, school administrators, the business community, as well as the Los Alamos School Board.
    By the time 7 p.m. rolled around, the time when he was to make a presentation to the general public at the Los Alamos High School’s speech theater, one would think he’d show some signs of slowing down.
    Instead, the general public got a man dressed in a newly pressed business suit and a crisp tie who didn’t have a hair out of place.
    Marczak jumped right into his 10-minute presentation about his background and what he was all about.
    “Innovation doesn’t happen with my position… innovation happens in the classroom,” he said toward the close of his presentation. “So what do I do to remove barriers so that more teachers and principals have what they need to be successful? I could sit up in central office and bark orders all day long, but unless I get out of my office and I get into the classroom and I find out what teachers need for kids, that’s where the innovation takes place. I remove barriers.”

  • Superintendent forum set for tonight

    Los Alamos Public Schools will host the first of two forums for the public to hear and ask questions of the two finalists for the position of Superintendent of Schools.

    Today's meeting will feature Chris Marczak, who is the superintendent at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Meeting time is 7 p.m. in the high school speech theater.

  • School committee seeks budget input

    Those wanting “in” on how the Los Alamos Public Schools can best educate children, or those who feel like they have something constructive to say about how the schools are run will have a chance to speak up.
    The Los Alamos School Board as well as its 2015-16 School Budget Committee, in fact, wants to hear those ideas.
    From now until mid-April the committee will be holding a series of public hearings at Los Alamos High School to hear what residents have to say about budget priorities. Its second meeting on the subject will take place Tuesday at Los Alamos High School’s speech theater, from 4-5 p.m.
    The school district has to have its Fiscal Year 2015-16 Budget completed in two months. This year, it’s projected the school budget will be about $34 million, which includes annual funding the district receives from the U.S. Department of Energy.
    “We build budgets every year and by state statute, we have to present to the New Mexico Public Education Department a balanced budget,” said Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt. “In this case, we are in a hurry because we have to present our budget to the New Mexico Public Education Department by May 1.” Schmidt added that at these meetings there will be places at the beginning for the public to give comment.

  • LAPS candidate forums scheduled

    Those who want a hand in deciding who is going to be the next superintendent of the Los Alamos Public School system should definitely mark their calendars for Monday and Wednesday.
    On those days, public forums will be held at the Los Alamos Speech Theater at 7 p.m. The Speech Theater is located between the gym and the library.
    Los Alamos School Board and its subcommittees have narrowed down the choice of candidates to two. Those are Dr. Chris Marczak and Dr. Kurt Steinhaus.
    Marczak will be appearing at the Monday forum and Steinhaus will be appearing at the Wednesday forum.
    The candidates are also scheduled to be interviewed on KRSN radio (1490 AM, 107.1 FM) at 8:30 a.m. Marczak will be on KRSN Monday and Steinhaus on Wednesday.
    Those planning to attend can fill out 3x5 cards, which will be will be available at the forums, where they can write questions down for the forum’s commentators to ask.
    The candidates will each give a presentation before the Q and A session.
    For more information about the search, go to laschools.net to find a section titled “Superintendent Search.”

  • MathCounts Team Wins Big

    Last weekend, the Los Alamos Middle School MathCounts team won the Northern New Mexico Chapter MATHCOUNTS competition. The chapter competition was held at Pojoaque Valley High School.
    The team consists of Do Vo, Christopher Koh, Antonio Dowdy and Duncan Fuehne. Vo placed first as an individual, Koh was second, Dowdy third and Fuehne fourth. The team will compete at state on March 21.  
    The team coaches are Phuong Vo anad Jane Lataille.
    The MATHCOUNTS Competition Program is designed to excite and challenge middle school students mathematically. 
    Here, left to right, are Phuong Vo, Dowdy, Do Vo, Fuehne, Koh and Lataille. Courtesy

  • Robotics team takes third at regional contest

    Los Alamos Public School’s First Technical Challenge robotics team took third place last Saturday at the Arizona Regional Championship competition in Flagstaff, Arizona.
    The LAPS Hawks won five of six qualifying matches to earn the third seed heading into the playoff matches.
    In the playoffs, the Hawks dropped two of three matches to the second placed seed, Area 52 of Nevada.
    In all, 31 top teams from around the region, including Texas, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico earned placement in the regional championship event.
    The Hawks’ robot, EPIC (Energized Perfectly Imagined Cyberbot), was only one of only a handful of robots that used multiple software schemes to score autonomous programming points at the beginning of each game and could deliver game balls to the tallest goals of the game.
    Each match consisted of four randomly selected robots, paired to work together. Each robot involved was required to occupy a space no larger than an 18-inch cube, however, once the match began, the robots could grow to any size.
    Teams had 30 seconds to score points through autonomous programming and another 2 minutes of driver-controlled action to score points in goals that was 48 inches in height.
    The Hawks are a team comprised of nine Los Alamos Middle School and Los Alamos High School students.

  • Teachers at the Roundhouse

    Many Los Alamos teachers came to show support of what they believe is the course the state needs to take to help students. Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) spoke to the crowd of more than 600 people during the rally earlier this month.

  • Prom organizers meet to check out Buffalo Thunder

    POJOAQUE — Parents, school administration officials and prom organizers recently met with officials from Buffalo Thunder Resort. According to Peter Lovato, Buffalo Thunder’s director of catering, they were there to look at where the students will be spending their prom as well as logistics.
    The group met in the lobby of the hotel, which he made clear was a separate entity from the casino part of the complex. He told them that the resort has catered to and accommodated more than 30 proms in it’s history of existence, as well as other high school events, such as Junior ROTC balls and various school-related conferences.
    “So, we do have a broad outreach to the various surrounding communities,” Lovato said to the group, before taking them on a short tour of Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder.
    The tour also included the hotel’s ballroom, which according to Lovato is the biggest ballroom in the state. Known as the Tewa Ballroom, which measures 16,500 square feet.
    Lovato said if the organizers were to go with their facility, they would lend the group about a third of the ballroom, which includes one or two “bays” within the 16,500-square ft. area. That would give the students plenty of room to host a dinner, dance and have a great time, he said.

  • Education Briefs 2-18-15

    School district looking to award
    ‘excellent’ students

    The Los Alamos Public Schools and the Los Alamos School Board is now accepting applications for their annual “Excellence For Student Achievement Award.”
    Los Alamos Public Schools will choose a recipient through an open nomination process.
    The nominee should be a person in the Los Alamos School District who has made a significant difference to student achievement during 2014. Nomination applications are available on the school district website, from School Board members, or by calling the district office at 663-2230.
    To be considered, the nomination must be returned to the district office by close of business day Feb. 25.
    The selection for the 2015 Achievement Award winner will be announced at the March 10 school board meeting.
    The award seeks to promote enhancement of student achievement and to focus the school board on efforts to improve student achievement.
    The 2015 winner will be recognized by the Los Alamos Public Schools Board in March 2015 and presented a plaque provided by the New Mexico School Board Association.

    LAPS hosting speech, debate tourney

  • Skandera wins confirmation vote in Senate

    SANTA FE — After a grueling grilling by the Senate Rules Committee a few hours before, the New Mexico Senate, after spending another 2-1/2 of debating the issue, finally decided to make Hanna Skandera New Mexico’s education secretary.
    The official senate vote was 22-19.
    Since she was appointed to the post by Gov. Susana Martinez in 2011, Skandera had been referred to in the media as well as by her colleagues as “education secretary designate,” due to the fact the State Senate had never previously approving Martinez’s appointment.
    But Monday, her confirmation finally made it out of the Rules Committee and onto the senate floor where the education reforms she’s tried to carry out in the past four years came under fire and praise.
    When she took office in 2011, Skandera was tasked by Martinez with trying to reform New Mexico’s public education system which has come last or near last in most polls relating to public education.
    Skandera focused on revamping the state’s teacher evaluation system.
    She also implemented a program that held back third grade students who did not pass state standards for reading proficiency.