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Education

  • HillTalkers weigh in on mil-levy debate

    The Los Alamos High School HillTalkers, the school’s debate team weighed in on whether or not Los Alamos voters should grant the University of New Mexico- Los Alamos more funding through a 2 mil tax levy.

    The debate team showed up at a forum and presentation on the subject presented by the League of Women Voters and UNM-LA at one of the school’s lecture halls Thursday night.

    Arguing “for” the levy increase were junior Sarah Bouquin and senior Daniel Ahrens. Arguing “against” the levy were juniors Dakota Klasky, and Irene Garrish.

    Ahrens opened the debate, saying why the public should step forward and support the levy. Among the points he made was a sharp decline in state funding for UNM-LA that occurred in the last five years, and the fact that UNM and the state legislature has called for communities to fund their own colleges.

    “As the responsibility for funding shifts to local communities we need to enact strong policy initiatives to support our local education,” he said.

    In response, Garrish quoted a letter from a local resident who said that “Los Alamos is a fairly affluent town, but we have a substantial population of fixed-income taxpayers who simply cannot afford a tax hike,” she quoted.

  • Gov announces stipends for teachers

    Governor Susana Martinez announced Wednesday that a new education reform initiative will pay 400 New Mexico teachers an additional $5,000 to work with students in struggling schools or to help students earn Advanced Placement (AP) credits.
    The first step in the initiative will reward 100 teachers who agree to move from a school with a grade of an A or B to a school with a D or F grade. Teachers must commit to a minimum of two years at the struggling school in order to receive the stipend.
    Additionally, 300 teachers—currently instructing AP classes—will be eligible for an incentive. Awards will be based on teachers who increase the number of students successfully passing AP courses.

  • State eyes changes to special ed funding

    At a recent Los Alamos Board of Education meeting, officials from the school district revealed the state is considering making a major change to how it funds special education and the Gifted and Talented Education Program. According to the way the state funds special education, GATE is considered a part of special education.
    According to LAPS’ Chief Financial Officer John Wolfe, the state is particularly looking at changing over to census-based funding for special education.

    After the meeting, Wolfe told the Los Alamos Monitor that this is only a recommendation and that so far, no legislation has resulted from the report. He said he and other school officials will be watching closely to see whether or not the state legislature acts on the recommendations, which were presented in a report by the Legislative Finance Committee.

    If that were to happen Wolfe said the district could stand to lose $270,000 in special education funding. “This would have a negative impact on those districts that would exceed the census right now,” he said at the meeting.

  • Officials take aim at gun show flap

    The Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club has been hosting a gun show for about a decade and a half in Los Alamos now, but if one resident’s point of view about where the show is now held gains any traction the show may have to go elsewhere.

    Currently, the annual event is staged at the old Pueblo School Gym, and there is one resident that is looking to change that. Nancy Schick, a retired Los Alamos school teacher, has been pressuring school officials to disallow any further gun shows at the gym.

    Even though the school has not been a school for many years, the district leases the property to different venues throughout the year, including the LASC Gun Show every August.

    To Schick, it’s about public perception. “This is a school, and should we be selling guns on school property, absolutely not,” she said, adding that ever since she’s publicly voiced her objections to the media and the school system, she’s heard many arguments opposing her views.

    “This is not about me not liking guns, it’s not about being against all gun shows, It’s about this being a gun show that, without question, is being held on school property,” she said.

  • Crushing cancer
  • LAMS gets moving

    According to the Los Alamos Board of Education, all Los Alamos Middle School students should be in their new school, all settled in and learning by Sept. 17.

    A lot has to happen before then however, including a “transition plan” carried out by school and McCarthy construction officials.

    Before the motion was approved however, the board assured the school’s principal, Rex Kilburn, he could structure the move any way he wants as long as they hit the target date of Sept. 17.

    Kilburn expressed concerns that any last-minute move would not give the teachers enough time to adjust to their new surroundings. He alluded to the physical structure and layout of the school, which was designed to offer stronger connections between students and teachers while at the same time, offering a community feel to the educational experience.

    “No insults intended here… but it’s not just cracking open a box, throwing stuff on a shelf and boom, we go. There are strong considerations here concerning this new school that we designed,” Kilburn told the board. “We are sharing space that has never been done before at the level that we are going to do it at this middle school.”

    Board President Jim Hall assured Kilburn that they could take all the time they needed.

  • LA gun show location questioned

    Some current and former educators in Los Alamos are questioning whether the community’s school system should continue to allow a gun show to be held in a gym in a long-closed school.

    The Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club has held its annual gun show in the school-owned Pueblo Gym for nearly all of the past 17 years, but critics say they just realized that.

    The 2013 sale began Saturday and runs until Sunday.

    Former high school teacher Nancy Schick cites on-campus school violence such as the killings at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school and at Columbine High School in Aurora, Colo., and says it seems inappropriate to allow guns on school property.

    Los Alamos school superintendent Gene Schmidt says he’s not aware of any real debate about the gun show and that the club staging the show is meeting a community need.

    Schick submitted a letter to the editor that was published today by the Los Alamos Monitor.

    The Los Alamos Monitor will report more on this issue this week.
     

  • District officials ponder master’s program

    In an effort to increase the number of teachers with master’s degrees in the school system, the Los Alamos Board of Education is thinking about starting an exclusive partnership with either Highlands University or the University of New Mexico.

    The subject came up during a planning session the board conducted Thursday.

    “We had two very nice conversations, one with Highlands, and the other with the University of New Mexico, on what they could provide if we were to contract a master’s degree cohort, Superintendent Gene Schmidt said.

    Schmidt also noted that both programs would allow the teachers to take up to six credits before being officially accepted in to the master’s degree program.

    According to Schmidt, there is a significant cost difference between the two programs.

    “That different cost is potentially important, because the conversation we would like to have is, ‘how could the district fully fund a master’s degree program for our staff,” he said, noting that the Highland program would cost around $234 a credit while UNM’s program would cost approximately $420. Both programs would contain 37 credits.

  • SFCC earns national accreditation

    The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. has announced that the New Mexico Energy$mart Academy at Santa Fe Community College has earned national accreditation for all of its weatherization training programs: Retrofit Installer Technician, Crew Leader, Energy Auditor and Quality Control Inspector.
     SFCC is one of only nine training centers nationwide accredited for energy efficiency programs and one of only two that are accredited in all job task analyses. The IREC credential is an internationally recognized mark of quality for education and training providers and instructors in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
    “SFCC is especially pleased to be among the first in the country to be accredited for all four energy efficiency job task analyses developed by the Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Labs,” Dr. Ana “Cha” Guzmán, president of SFCC said.
    “As a relatively new program nationally, SFCC is very proud that the Energy$mart Academy has achieved IREC accreditation, which places us among some of the established stars of the energy efficiency training world,” Amanda Evans said.

  • Cyberbullying policy OK’d

    The Los Alamos Board of Education recently voted to adopt a cyber-bullying policy. The state requested that all of its school districts have a policy in place by the end of August.

    The board originally took up the issue in July, and opted to make some refinements to the policy before voting on it in August. At the time it was first introduced, the board had some reservations over privacy issues, responsibility for students using school hardware and software, as well as the policy just being too intrusive into the lives of faculty and students alike.

    “I think, in general, we are struggling to address social media, and what we call the ‘Gen Y’ kids. This current generation has generally had the Internet at their fingertips since birth. So when we talk about social media we have to think about the world they’re used to operating in and we have to be careful about unintended consequences,” said Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn in a previous article about the subject that appeared in the Los Alamos Monitor.

    At the board’s most recent meeting on the subject Washburn told the board he hoped it would be satisfied with the administration’s adjustments.