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Education

  • School board to meet with union

     

    Before the new school year resumes, officials from the Los Alamos Public School District, the Los Alamos Federation of School Employees and the Los Alamos Board of Education will be meeting to clear up some communication issues in the most recent Memorandum of understanding between the school district and the labor union.

    During a meeting in May, school board member Dr. Kevin Honnell brought those issues to light during a session concerning proposed language changes in the MOU. In that meeting, Honnell urged his fellow board members to table the series of MOU proposals for a later date, until they can arrive at some fundamental understanding as far as communication protocol is concerned.

  • College Student Loan Rates Set to Double
  • Board set to decide payback timing

    During its meeting in July, the Los Alamos Board of Education will unveil a plan to pay back the $218,000 it owes New Mexico’s Public Education Department.

    In May, the PED notified all of the school districts throughout the state that it may have paid them too much or too little in funding to help with at-risk students due to an alphabetization error.

    As it turned out, Los Alamos was paid too much, to the tune of $218,000.

    At that meeting, the board will then make a recommendation to the district as to what options it should pursue.

    “We would like your guidance,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt said to the board. “That guidance could be to pay it all back in one lump sum, it could be to pay it back 1/12th the amount monthly over the course of a year, or we could delay it for five years.”

  • LAPS officials mull refund

    It looks like the Los Alamos Public School District will have to give back the money after all.

    A few weeks ago, the New Mexico Public Education Department announced that it had made an accounting error when it came to distributing funds meant to compensate school systems for the number of “at-risk” students they are educating. At-risk students are considered to be students who don’t attend school regularly, cannot speak English, or are considered living below the poverty level.

    The amount LAPS is going to have to refund the state amounts to $218,076.73.

    On Tuesday, LAPS school officials, including Chief Financial Officer John Wolfe and Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt, met with officials from the PED over the issue.

    At first, the PED said they were going to let the school districts that were affected keep the money, but then they decided not to.

    “They received some feedback from various folks, and they found they had to take it back because of the legal issues involved,” Wolfe said.

    Though the school board has not been consulted yet, they are meeting with the board this Thursday to discuss the issue, Schmidt and Wolfe both said the most likely option they will settle on is paying it back through the next school year.

  • Hope Floats in a Concrete Canoe

    Does concrete float? Teams representing 23 schools were judged on how well they applied their engineering skills to building boats from concrete. The concrete canoes were more than four times heavier than same-size canoes made of wood.

  • LAHS advances in national rankings

    Los Alamos High School has had quite a run lately in terms of national rankings.

    LAHS received “Silver Medal” status in 2013 as one of America’s Best High Schools in an annual ranking by U.S. News & World Report. From a review of 21,035 U.S. public high schools, Los Alamos ranked 556th in the nation. The LAHS ranking was up significantly from the 2012 “Silver Medal” ranking of 638th.

    Rankings of high schools are largely determined by participation in Advanced Placement courses.

    This past year, 49 percent of the 1,124 Los Alamos High School students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses. Other academic indicators used in the ranking are College Readiness Index, Math Proficiency, Reading Proficiency, and Student/Teacher Ratio.

    Los Alamos High School also checked in at No. 780 on the Newsweek top 1,000 school list. The list is based on six components: graduation rate (25 percent), college acceptance rate (25 percent), AP/IB/AICE tests taken per student (25 percent), average SAT/ACT scores (10 percent), average AP/IB/AICE scores (10 percent) and percent of students enrolled in at least one AP/IB/AICE course (five percent).

  • Kiwanis honors

    Jordan Ahlers will be attending Hillsdale College in Michigan and will study pre-law or engineering. Ahlers was one of 10 students that received a scholarship from Kiwanis for school expenses. Pictured from left to right are: Gary Ahlers, Jordan Ahlers, Don Casperson, Joni Ahlers and Morrie Pongratz. Kiwanis meets at noon each Tuesday at Trinity on the Hill Church in Kelly Hall.
     

  • UNM-LA begins 2 mil-levy campaign

    Coming to a dinner table or civic club near you: a conversation about taxes and education, courtesy of the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos.

    UNM-LA hosted a kickoff event on campus Wednesday for community leaders as well as faculty in an effort to get the word out about UNM-LA’s proposed, 2 mil tax increase. The tax increase is due to go to voters on a ballot this fall and the election is scheduled for Sept. 17.

    During the event, college officials emphasized to their respective audiences how important it is that the increase passes and why the additional funds are necessary.

    “I hope they take away from this a clear understanding as to why we need the funding the tax levy will bring,” said Campus Executive Director Dr. Cedric Page following the presentation.

    Steven Boerigter, the chairman of UNM-LA’s Advisory Board, was blunt in his assessment that he shared with community leaders who gathered for the presentation. “UNM-LA is in trouble,” he said. “State funding has gone down, costs are going up, we need as a community of Los Alamos, we believe we need to step up to the table.”

  • Officials name new Barranca principal

    Barranca Mesa Elementary School has a new principal, the Los Alamos School District announced Wednesday.
    Bradford M. Parker will take over the position in the upcoming school year, replacing Pam Miller.

    Andrea Determan, fourth grade teacher and Committee Chair of the interview committee noted that, “we were impressed with his qualifications and experience and are excited and happy to have him become a member of our school community.”

    Parker comes to Barranca Mesa Elementary with 17 years of administrative experience at all levels in New Mexico Schools. From 2008 until recently, he served as the principal of Jemez Valley Elementary, Middle, and High Schools.

    Jemez Valley Elementary under his leadership was named a “School on the Rise” by the Public Education Department in 2009. Jemez Valley Elementary made Adequate Yearly Progress in 2009 and 2010, meeting the criteria for successful schools established by the State of New Mexico and the No Child Left Behind Act.

    Parker has most recently been the principal of Jemez Valley High. He is a retired full commander in the Naval Reserve and has a record of leadership.

  • Barranca Elementary roof a wakeup call

    When the roof of Barranca Mesa Elementary School’s gym blew off in May, school officials looked at the incident as a wake-up call. A recent investigation has caused the district and the board to ask some hard questions about building codes and climate change.

    At a recent meeting District Assets manager Joan Ahlers reminded the board that not only has building code changed since most of the roofs in the district were installed (25 to 30 years ago) but so has the weather.

    “With Barranca and Piñon, in light of the most recent wind event we’ve had, the question raised if the roofs were properly installed. The roofs were installed properly, but they were installed over 25 to 30 years ago... However they are no longer up to code so they all probably need to be replaced,” Ahlers said. “...For example, uplift in this part of the country was never really considered very heavily, uplift was only considered in areas of the country that had hurricanes and tornadoes.”

    In recent wind incidents involving roof damage, students were not present. At Barranca, that incident happened on a Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday is a half-day at Barranca.

    After some discussions with the district building superintendent Jeff Sargent, Ahlers noted that at least seven roofs need to be replaced.