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Education

  • 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.

  • Audit suggests special education funding overhaul

    SANTA FE (AP) — Legislative auditors are recommending New Mexico revamp special education financing because the current system creates incentives for schools to gain more funding by identifying students for greater services.
    About $500 million is spent annually on special education, but a report issued Wednesday by Legislative Finance Committee staff said schools are penalized if they find less costly ways of helping students.
    The state provides aid based on a school’s determination of the services required for students with disabilities, with more money for those with greater needs.
    The report recommends basing special education aid on a school’s total enrollment.
    Auditors said if funding was based on a national average of special education students, about 15 school districts would lose money, including $8 million for Albuquerque, and aid would increase for 26 districts.
     

  • Some Dems support mil levy

    Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, District 43 Representative Stephanie Garcia Richard, State Democratic Chair Sam Bregman, Judge Sylvia LaMar and new Probate Judge Christine Chandler joined with other Democrats at a private “Conversation with the Congressman” event Friday at the home of Drs.Tom Csanadi and Marvel Harrison. Lujan answered questions from constituents and spoke specifically about the issues affecting Los Alamos as well as national issues. He joined all the Democrats in support of the upcoming UNM-LA mil levy.

  • Second grade class sizes raise concerns

    Second of a two-part series

    Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting focused on parents’ concerns about second grade class size at a number of local elementary schools.

    Here are the numbers:
    • Aspen Elementary, second grade, two classes, 26 +25 for a total of 51 second grade students.
    • Barranca Elementary, second grade, two classes, 26 + 25 for a total of 51 second grade students.
    • Chamisa Elementary, second grade, two classes, 17 +18 for a total of 35 students
    • Mountain Elementary, second grade, two classes, 26 + 26 for a total of 50 students
    • At Piñon Elementary, it was the fourth grade that stood out, with two classes of 25 students each for a total of 50.

    The board spent a considerable amount of time trying to come up with solutions.

    Board member Kevin Honnell acknowledged that the second grade is a critical grade for school children, where they learn to master reading and get the fundamentals of arithmetic, he also urged the audience to look at the realities the board is up against.

  • Class size spike in three schools angers parents

    First in a series.

    A number of parents, alarmed at the sharp rise in second grade class sizes in three elementary schools, turned out for Tuesday’s Los Alamos Board of Education meeting to voice their concerns.

    “These class sizes are too large and unacceptable to me and many other parents,” resident Susan O’Leary told the board.

    O’Leary, who has two children enrolled at Mountain Elementary, continued to get her point across.

    “The most important variable I hear about elementary education is class size,” O’Leary said. “If we pay attention to class size knowing that reasonable classes mean that our children will get a reasonable amount of attention from the teacher at a time when many children are learning how to behave in a classroom. The National Education Association recommends class sizes of 15 for grades K through 3. I’d settle for a class size of 20.”

    According to documents obtained from the Los Alamos Public Schools, the average number of students in second grade classes in each of the elementary schools is 25 as of Aug. 14. Upon obtaining the figures, school officials reminded the Los Alamos Monitor that the numbers are fluid, and they won’t know for about two weeks whether the numbers are accurate or not.

  • School's Back In Session
  • New teachers report to work

    Back row left to right: Nathaniel Bates, Valerie Collins, Renee Dunwoody, Katherine Herring, Jaclyn LaFon, Miel Lim, Michaelangelo Lobato. Front row left to right: Angelic Martinez, David Parsons, Elizabeth Radcliff, Mitchy Rene, Eleanor Simons, Sarah Szymanski-Blom, Patricia Wilson.

  • Principal: Aspen ready for school year

    While most schools have been fairly dormant over the summer, that hasn’t been the case for Aspen Elementary School.

    From the very start of the summer break, the school has been a hive of activity as construction work began on building the school’s new design and school officials worked toward making the return to school as normal as possible for students.

    This year, students will be bypassing the actual school for a campus of modular buildings parked in the back. According to Aspen School Principal Katherine Vandenkieboom, all the teachers are nearly settled, and the portable classrooms are all set up.

    “We’ve had some really great help, and now it’s just a matter of figuring out where the furniture goes."

    While the first day of school is Wednesday. Another important date parents need to keep in mind is Tuesday. That’s the day Vandenkieboom will have posted each student’s homeroom assignment. This year, because of the construction, the assignments will be posted on the construction gate in front of the school, which is at the corner of 33rd Street and Villa.

  • 'Topper Pride

    Los Alamos High School principal Sandra Warnock shows her appreciation to the students for achieving an “A” grade on the recent state report card.

  • Middle school nears finish

    If all goes well, it seems students and staff will just have one more month at Los Alamos Middle School’s temporary campus before moving into the new school.

    According to school and construction officials familiar with the project, moving day could take place as early as Labor Day weekend.

    Though Aug. 8 was mentioned as a possible opening date, the contractor, McCarthy Construction experienced unforeseen obstacles early in the project, and so was unable to make that date. Crews encountered more rock than usual under the foundation of the building, and that triggered other delays in various facets of the project, which forced them to fall back to Labor Day weekend. The absolute deadline is actually later in the fall, where, if they don’t make that deadline, then financial penalties will start to kick in for the contractor.

    “The actual contract date is not until October,” said David Wharram, the construction liaison the school district hired to keep them updated on McCarthy’s progress. “That’s when penalties actually kick in.”

    He added that they are currently working on getting the heating and ventilation systems squared away and some other items.

    The school apparently received its first test last week when students and parents showed up for registration.