• School board is still busy with search

    While Los Alamos Public Schools wrapped up 2014 relatively neatly, there were a couple of loose ends that have yet to be resolved, ones that when they are resolved will have a far ranging impact on the lives of Los Alamos residents.
    Depending on how one of those is resolved, the outcome will surely impact their schoolchildren as well including students from outside the district — the Los Alamos School Board’s search for a new superintendent. The search probably won’t be completed until March or April.
    While the Los Alamos School Board could have probably wrapped the search up sooner, early on they decided to take advantage of the superintendent’s offer to stay until the end of the school year to provide a smoother transition for not only the outgoing and incoming superintendent, but for the board as well.
    LASB President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie said she is hopeful that with all the work the board and the community has put into the search, they are going to find a candidate everyone can agree on.
    “I expect we’re going to find a very well-qualified superintendent for our district,” Bjarke-McKenzie said. “We have so many people from the community involved in this search that we are going to find the perfect person.

  • Board reluctantly OKs the state’s eval system

    There were some big happenings in around Los Alamos Public Schools this year.
    There were some tumultuous moments in 2014, with teachers and administrators at odds over the state’s recommended teacher evaluation plans.
    In July, the Los Alamos School Board, faced with either adopting the New Mexico’s Department of Public Education’s teacher evaluation plan as is, or adopt one recently created by the district that NMPED would allow using its criteria and basic outline, reluctantly voted to adopt its own plan.
    At a June board meeting, Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt presented the board with its version of the plan, which was created with the help of a special committee of teachers and administrators.
    “The board actually has a choice. The choice is to not accept this plan, and the state will choose one for us,” he said. “Accept this plan as the best of the limited flexible opportunities we have, and in the minority report, we will express our concerns.”

  • Board updated on 5-yr. plan

    Where do we want to be? Where are we going? Where are we now?” and How do we get there?
    These questions were the guideposts the Los Alamos Public Schools used in its latest “Five Year, Facilities Master Plan Update,” the annual document that’s required by the Public School Facilities Authority and the the Public School Capital Outlay Council, if the district wants to remain eligible to receive funding assistance from the state for its capital building projects.
    The report was presented to the board by Sayre Gerhart, a senior facility planner with Architectural Research Consultants, an Albuquerque firm hired by the district and the school board through the PSFA to carry out this year’s assessment of the district’s 2015-2020 plan.
    Information for the report was gathered between April and August.
    Sources included members of the general public, county and state agencies, the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and the Los Alamos National Laboratory Community Programs Office.

  • UNM-LA board candidates file for ballot

    Besides school board candidates, the Los Alamos County Clerk’s Office also had plenty of candidates from the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos Advisory Board, show up, as four candidates showed up at the office to officially declare their candidacy Dec. 16.
    According to state election laws, candidates wanting to declare their official candidacy for the board in person must do so on that date.
    On Tuesday, UNM-LA Advisory Board Chairman Stephen Boerigter put in his reelection bid, declaring for “Position Four.” Since no other candidates for the position came in that day, most likely Boerigter, the incumbent, will go unchallenged during the Feb 3 elections, unless a write-in candidate files on or before Dec. 30, the cutoff date for doing so.
    That same date applies for potential Los Alamos School Board candidates as well.
    “Position Three” was the only other seat up for grabs, as the person who occupied that position, Linda Hull, opted not to run again.
    Candidates that showed up for the position on Tuesday included Troy Hughes, Michael Di Rosa and James Nealy Robinson.
    For Boerigter, running for reelection was an easy choice.

  • Candidates file for election

    Tuesday was a busier day than usual at the County Clerk’s Office, as eight candidates hoping to take a seat on the Los Alamos School Board dropped in to fill out their election paperwork.
    According to state election laws, Dec. 16 was the only time residents interested in running for a seat on the board could formally declare their candidacy. In the upcoming Feb. 3 election in 2015, three districts will be up for election, districts 3, 4 and 5.
    Candidates filing for District 3 include NancyAnn “Nan” Holmes, the incumbent, Sheryl Nichols and William Hargraves.
    Candidates for District 4 include Andrea Susan Cunningham, Naishing Key and Michael Fassbender.
    Candidates for District 5 are Judy Bjarke-McKenzie, the incumbent and current president of the school board, as well as Jennifer Elizabeth McCumber.
    Holmes was appointed by the school board to fill out the rest of former school board David Foster’s term, who recently moved out of state. District 4 is the only district that does not have an incumbent running, as school board vice president Kevin Honnell opted not to run for another term.

  • Superintendent: Kids should stay at school today

    This morning, Los Alamos Superintendent of Schools, Gene Schmidt, released the following statement for Los Alamos Public Schools parents:

    Currently road conditions are snow covered and slippery.  The bulk of the storm is expected to pass through by noon. Los Alamos County road crews are sanding and plowing the roads.
    If your children are already at school the safest place for students and staff are to remain in school. This will give the County time to clear the roads. At this time our plan is to release all schools at their normal Wednesday dismissal time. As always, parents may choose to pick up their children early.
    It is important to remember that any closure or early dismissal is coordinated with the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Los Alamos County.

    New information will be posted on LAMonitor.com as it becomes available.

  • Last portable is hauled off campus

    Recently, Jaynes Construction Supervisor Sam Burns guided the last classroom portable from Aspen Elementary School around 33rd Street toward Villa Street.
    With that, and the construction of the newly-completed school, 17portables that once housed Aspen Elementary students for the past fourteen months have been removed from the construction site.
    Over the past several weeks, commuters and motorists in the Aspen neighborhood have waited patiently while portables were moved to grounds opposite Los Alamos Middle School and adjacent to Chamisa Elementary School for temporary storage until the district decides the next school renovation or remodel project.
    Kathryn Vandenkieboom, Aspen Elementary Principal, said the school is embarking on a new era.
    “We are so grateful for our permanent school,” Vandenkieboom said. “When I went out back the other day to look and they were gone, I was shocked that the space was so big. I’m so excited that the open space will become a soccer field and play space for children. We are so happy with the new school.”
    Vandenkieboom also thanked teachers, students and parents for their patience during the construction of the new school.
    She also said the new playground facilities will be completed in the spring.

  • First draft of superintendent flyer released

    The Los Alamos School Board recently took a huge step in its search for a new superintendent. It published and released a prototype flyer to the public on what it’s looking for in a superintendent, and what candidates for the job can expect from the district.
    Some of those requirements include the following:

    • “Inspires trust, self-confidence and models high standards of integrity and personal performance with the ability to develop and communicate a vision of quality education for the future to the board, staff and community,” read the first requirement for the job in the pamphlet. The second requirement was about management style and inclusiveness:

    • “Has knowledge of and successful experience in sound fiscal practices and management of district resources, including appropriate participation of others in planning and decision-making.”

  • Martinez proposes teacher pay bump

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez announced an $11.5 million package of proposals that includes paying new teachers more and creating a mentorship program that her administration hopes will eventually lead to improvements in student achievement.
    New Mexico consistently ranks at or near the bottom when it comes to education, and Martinez said during a visit to Zuni Elementary School in Albuquerque that increasing pay for starting teachers by $2,000 will help make the state’s recruitment efforts more competitive.
    If approved by the Legislature, starting pay for a teaching job would be $34,000 per year, and any teacher currently earning less would receive a raise.
    “Starting teacher salaries are too low in New Mexico, so we need to raise them again,” Martinez said in a statement.
    Last year, the state budget included an increase in the minimum salary for new teachers to $32,000 per year.
    The latest proposal would cost the state an estimated $6.7 million to raise the base salary again.

  • EMS program gets boost by passage of Bond ’C’ in election

    The University of New Mexico Los Alamos received some life saving support for its Emergency Medical Services program when voters went to the polls Nov. 4.
    Voters across the state were able to do that by voting for the “Bond C” question, which allowed the state to release $140 million in general obligation bonds to help fund some apparently much needed capital improvement projects within the state’s network of special schools tribal schools, colleges and universities.
    The question on the ballot was: “Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $140 million to make capital expenditures for certain higher education, special schools and tribal schools capital improvements and acquisitions and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?”
    The $140 million will be distributed among at least 20 educational institutions across the state. UNM-LA will be receiving a half million dollars of that funding, which will be used to renovate and design a space for its emergency services program.
    UNM-LA CEO Wynn Goering made the announcement at a recent UNM-LA Advisory Board meeting.