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Education

  • Smith's donates $49K to community groups, schools

    Smith’s Food and Drug distributed about $49,000 of annual proceeds from it’s “Earn and Learn” program to 20 community organizations and schools Wednesday.
    The top five earners were Aspen Elementary School, $4,630.96; Barranca Elementary School, $5,809.82; Mountain Elementary School, $5,689.19; Los Alamos Middle School, $5,193.30 and Los Alamos High School, $5,604.16.
    Superintendent of School Dr. Gene Schmidt was at the ceremony to show his support for the schools as well as the community.
    “This is one more example of how a business in our community reinvests,” said Schmidt. “When we see the checks go out, they go out all across the community. He added this is also about Los Alamos residents supporting its school system.
    “This wouldn’t be possible if people didn’t support their local businesses,” he said. “Even as we thank Smith’s for its contributions our schools, we thank the community for supporting local businesses.”
    Residents helped raise money for the recipients by linking their “Fresh Values” cards to the school or organization of their choice.

  • Teacher union fights state evaluation

    According to Ellen Mills, president of the Los Alamos Federation of School Employees, a recent meeting with state education secretary designee Hanna Skandera did not go well.

    As part of a delegation looking to modify Skandera’s new evaluation system for teachers, to see how well they are teaching students using the new “Common Core” method, Mills told the other members of LAFSE that Skandera did not seem interested in what she and the others had to say.

    “...While we asked that she slow the process down, that we do a pilot, maybe we focus on one area rather than jumping into the deep end with both cement shoes on,” she said, acknowledging that Skandera seemed to be listening to them. “After two hours of this dialogue… she stood up and said there will be no waiver, we are not slowing it down, we are going for full implementation. I then thought to myself, at that point, then why did we talk to you for the past few hours?”

  • LAPS proposes 'High School 2.0'

    The Los Alamos Public Schools is looking for seed money for its latest project; alternative programs for students who want to skip the college-after high school route, yet find a rewarding job upon graduating high school.

    Called "High School 2.0,” the program seeks to arm qualified students with a high school diploma as well as an Associate’s Degree from the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos in the following fields: fire science, pre-engineering with a focus on robotics, a premedical degree with a focus on emergency medical service and possibly other degree programs.

    “We already have a real solid AP program in place; what we’re trying to do is address the other end of the spectrum, kids that might be interested in a career-type path as well as those who at risk of dropping out because they see our current programs as meeting their needs,” said Assistant Superintendent of Schools Gerry Washburn, who also co-authored the proposal to fund the program.

  • LAPS preps for Common Core

    Whether they were curious or already knew what it was all about, parents showed up at the Crossroads Bible Church Friday to see how they could play a more active role in their child’s education.

    Los Alamos Public Schools is currently switching over to the “Common Core” system of learning, and thought it would be a good idea to host a seminar about it.

    The lower floors and rooms of the church were occupied by Sundance Educational Consulting, a company hired by the Los Alamos Public Schools to explain to parents what Common Core involves, as well as teach parents some techniques in Common Core that will enrich their child’s experience in the new system.

    “We hope to get parents to understand some of the latest requirements of Common Core,” said Christine Becker, president of Sundance. “But more than that, how they can be involved, and how they can assist their children to succeed with those standards. It’s about parent engagement.”

    Courses taught Friday included understanding the stages of development, what parents should expect of their child, how a child’s brain works, and how they can use Common Core to enrich their child’s learning experience in school.

  • District picks school for master's program

    The Los Alamos Board of Education has decided overwhelmingly in favor of Highlands University for a program designed to increase the number of teachers in the district with a master’s degree.

    In funding a master’s program for its teachers, the district is hoping to retain more teachers as well as beef up the “training and experience” factor for the district, which the NM Public Education Department rewards with more funding for the district.

    Recently, the district suffered a setback in that funding when seven well-experienced teachers, most with master’s degrees, retired last year, an event that cost the district in not only training, education and experience, but in funding as well.

    Instead of replacing the teachers, the board thought it would make greater economic sense to fund a program that would enhance the education and qualifications of teachers within the district and use the later gain in funding to in turn hire more teachers.

    At Tuesday’s meeting, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt and Assistant Superintendent of Schools Gerry Washburn presented their plan to the board.

    Schmidt said their plan had three goals, increasing teacher effectiveness, retaining and attracting quality teachers and addressing the PED funding issue.

  • Voters reject tax hike

    The crowd in the lobby of the Los Alamos Municipal Building was guarded, as members of the UNM-LA Advisory Board and the Los Alamos Committee For Higher Education waited anxiously to see if the residents of Los Alamos voted to approve a 2-mil increase in property taxes to prop up the university.

    The polls closed at 7 p.m., and County Clerk Sharon Stover had the results by 7:30 p.m.

    Though the margin was close, with 47.49 percent of ballots in favor, 52.21 percent voted against the tax hike. The unofficial tally is 2,662 for and 2,908 against.

    UNM-LA Business Director Lisa Wismer, who was one of many heavily involved in the “Vote Yes” campaign, offered some words of consolation.

    “I’d like to thank you for showing your support, appreciation and support you showed UNM-LA,” she told the crowd. “We all have a passion for education, and we wanted to convince the community to invest in the future, as far as it relates to UNM-LA, and it didn’t come out the way we hoped.”

  • Middle school opens

    The Los Alamos Middle School opened its new facility Tuesday morning as Ellie Simons teaches a computer skills class.

  • Final day to vote on UNM-LA mil-levy

    Whether you’re for or against a tax increase to support the University of New Mexico- Los Alamos, your opinion won’t count unless you vote by 7 p.m. today.

    After that, it will be too late to make your opinion known regardless of how you stand on a 2-mil tax levy being proposed by UNM-LA.

    UNM-LA decided to initiate the tax vote in the face of what school officials have said are the rising costs of education, coupled with sharp declines in state funding over the past five years.

    Since the beginning of this year, officials have been out in the community campaigning for the levy, letting residents know about what they say is the valuable role UNM-LA plays in the community and in the education of students in the Los Alamos Public Schools.

    Among the things supporters touted were UNM-LA’s dual-credit program, where Los Alamos High School students can take college courses at the school at no cost.

    Officials have also noted some of the college’s new degree programs, such as fire science and robotics, may have to shut down, since they were started under grant programs, programs that are due to run out of funding soon.

  • Suit filed against PED

    A lawsuit filed by Democratic legislators and a teachers union asks a court to block the New Mexico Department of Education’s new system for evaluating public school teachers’ performance.
    The Albuquerque Journal reports that the lawsuit filed Friday in state District Court in Albuquerque contends that parts of the department’s rule conflict with state law and are illegal.
    Department spokesman Larry Behrens calls the suit a delay tactic that harms public school students.
    Behrens also notes that the state Supreme Court previously rejected a challenge to the rule.
    “This lawsuit rehashes the same tired arguments the Supreme Court rejected late last year,” PED spokesman Larry Behrens told the Journal. “We will fight yet another tactic to delay because we understand that 300,000 New Mexico students deserve better.”
    Attorney Shane Youtz represents the plaintiffs. He says the new suit is narrower.
    The suit cites provisions of the rule allowing charter schools to apply for waivers and for personnel other than principals to observe teachers in the classroom.
    Educators allege that Education Secretary designate Hanna Skandera violated her statutory authority by promulgating the PED’s teacher
    evaluation rule.

  • National Merit Scholarship semifinalists

    The National Merit Scholarship Corporation recently announced its semifinalists for its scholarship program. And Los Alamos had plenty of nominations. They are: Back row: left to right: Calvin McKinley, Daniel Ahrens, Tristan Goodwin, Collin Hemez. Front row: left to right: George Barnum, Melanie Boncella, Lauren Tencate, Alexandra Berl.