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Education

  • School committee seeks budget input

    Those wanting “in” on how the Los Alamos Public Schools can best educate children, or those who feel like they have something constructive to say about how the schools are run will have a chance to speak up.
    The Los Alamos School Board as well as its 2015-16 School Budget Committee, in fact, wants to hear those ideas.
    From now until mid-April the committee will be holding a series of public hearings at Los Alamos High School to hear what residents have to say about budget priorities. Its second meeting on the subject will take place Tuesday at Los Alamos High School’s speech theater, from 4-5 p.m.
    The school district has to have its Fiscal Year 2015-16 Budget completed in two months. This year, it’s projected the school budget will be about $34 million, which includes annual funding the district receives from the U.S. Department of Energy.
    “We build budgets every year and by state statute, we have to present to the New Mexico Public Education Department a balanced budget,” said Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt. “In this case, we are in a hurry because we have to present our budget to the New Mexico Public Education Department by May 1.” Schmidt added that at these meetings there will be places at the beginning for the public to give comment.

  • LAPS candidate forums scheduled

    Those who want a hand in deciding who is going to be the next superintendent of the Los Alamos Public School system should definitely mark their calendars for Monday and Wednesday.
    On those days, public forums will be held at the Los Alamos Speech Theater at 7 p.m. The Speech Theater is located between the gym and the library.
    Los Alamos School Board and its subcommittees have narrowed down the choice of candidates to two. Those are Dr. Chris Marczak and Dr. Kurt Steinhaus.
    Marczak will be appearing at the Monday forum and Steinhaus will be appearing at the Wednesday forum.
    The candidates are also scheduled to be interviewed on KRSN radio (1490 AM, 107.1 FM) at 8:30 a.m. Marczak will be on KRSN Monday and Steinhaus on Wednesday.
    Those planning to attend can fill out 3x5 cards, which will be will be available at the forums, where they can write questions down for the forum’s commentators to ask.
    The candidates will each give a presentation before the Q and A session.
    For more information about the search, go to laschools.net to find a section titled “Superintendent Search.”

  • MathCounts Team Wins Big

    Last weekend, the Los Alamos Middle School MathCounts team won the Northern New Mexico Chapter MATHCOUNTS competition. The chapter competition was held at Pojoaque Valley High School.
    The team consists of Do Vo, Christopher Koh, Antonio Dowdy and Duncan Fuehne. Vo placed first as an individual, Koh was second, Dowdy third and Fuehne fourth. The team will compete at state on March 21.  
    The team coaches are Phuong Vo anad Jane Lataille.
    The MATHCOUNTS Competition Program is designed to excite and challenge middle school students mathematically. 
    Here, left to right, are Phuong Vo, Dowdy, Do Vo, Fuehne, Koh and Lataille. Courtesy

  • Robotics team takes third at regional contest

    Los Alamos Public School’s First Technical Challenge robotics team took third place last Saturday at the Arizona Regional Championship competition in Flagstaff, Arizona.
    The LAPS Hawks won five of six qualifying matches to earn the third seed heading into the playoff matches.
    In the playoffs, the Hawks dropped two of three matches to the second placed seed, Area 52 of Nevada.
    In all, 31 top teams from around the region, including Texas, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico earned placement in the regional championship event.
    The Hawks’ robot, EPIC (Energized Perfectly Imagined Cyberbot), was only one of only a handful of robots that used multiple software schemes to score autonomous programming points at the beginning of each game and could deliver game balls to the tallest goals of the game.
    Each match consisted of four randomly selected robots, paired to work together. Each robot involved was required to occupy a space no larger than an 18-inch cube, however, once the match began, the robots could grow to any size.
    Teams had 30 seconds to score points through autonomous programming and another 2 minutes of driver-controlled action to score points in goals that was 48 inches in height.
    The Hawks are a team comprised of nine Los Alamos Middle School and Los Alamos High School students.

  • Teachers at the Roundhouse

    Many Los Alamos teachers came to show support of what they believe is the course the state needs to take to help students. Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) spoke to the crowd of more than 600 people during the rally earlier this month.

  • Prom organizers meet to check out Buffalo Thunder

    POJOAQUE — Parents, school administration officials and prom organizers recently met with officials from Buffalo Thunder Resort. According to Peter Lovato, Buffalo Thunder’s director of catering, they were there to look at where the students will be spending their prom as well as logistics.
    The group met in the lobby of the hotel, which he made clear was a separate entity from the casino part of the complex. He told them that the resort has catered to and accommodated more than 30 proms in it’s history of existence, as well as other high school events, such as Junior ROTC balls and various school-related conferences.
    “So, we do have a broad outreach to the various surrounding communities,” Lovato said to the group, before taking them on a short tour of Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder.
    The tour also included the hotel’s ballroom, which according to Lovato is the biggest ballroom in the state. Known as the Tewa Ballroom, which measures 16,500 square feet.
    Lovato said if the organizers were to go with their facility, they would lend the group about a third of the ballroom, which includes one or two “bays” within the 16,500-square ft. area. That would give the students plenty of room to host a dinner, dance and have a great time, he said.

  • Education Briefs 2-18-15

    School district looking to award
    ‘excellent’ students

    The Los Alamos Public Schools and the Los Alamos School Board is now accepting applications for their annual “Excellence For Student Achievement Award.”
    Los Alamos Public Schools will choose a recipient through an open nomination process.
    The nominee should be a person in the Los Alamos School District who has made a significant difference to student achievement during 2014. Nomination applications are available on the school district website, from School Board members, or by calling the district office at 663-2230.
    To be considered, the nomination must be returned to the district office by close of business day Feb. 25.
    The selection for the 2015 Achievement Award winner will be announced at the March 10 school board meeting.
    The award seeks to promote enhancement of student achievement and to focus the school board on efforts to improve student achievement.
    The 2015 winner will be recognized by the Los Alamos Public Schools Board in March 2015 and presented a plaque provided by the New Mexico School Board Association.

    LAPS hosting speech, debate tourney

  • Skandera wins confirmation vote in Senate

    SANTA FE — After a grueling grilling by the Senate Rules Committee a few hours before, the New Mexico Senate, after spending another 2-1/2 of debating the issue, finally decided to make Hanna Skandera New Mexico’s education secretary.
    The official senate vote was 22-19.
    Since she was appointed to the post by Gov. Susana Martinez in 2011, Skandera had been referred to in the media as well as by her colleagues as “education secretary designate,” due to the fact the State Senate had never previously approving Martinez’s appointment.
    But Monday, her confirmation finally made it out of the Rules Committee and onto the senate floor where the education reforms she’s tried to carry out in the past four years came under fire and praise.
    When she took office in 2011, Skandera was tasked by Martinez with trying to reform New Mexico’s public education system which has come last or near last in most polls relating to public education.
    Skandera focused on revamping the state’s teacher evaluation system.
    She also implemented a program that held back third grade students who did not pass state standards for reading proficiency.

  • Search continues for new super

    The Los Alamos School Board recently met with members of its superintendent search team, hoping to narrow down its list of 14 candidates even further.
    According to School Board Secretary Matt Williams, the board succeeded in narrowing the list down some more, though he could not say by how much or give any other details about their Feb. 12 meeting.
    “I would just say we had our list of quarterfinalists, and we have whittled the list down to semifinalists,” Williams said.
    The meeting was led in part by Ryan Ray, the executive director of Ray & Associates, the school executive recruitment firm hired by the board to help it in its search.
    All persons involved in the search have signed a confidentiality agreement so as not to reveal the identities, or ways to identify, candidates that have applied for the search.
    “They all have very good jobs already,” said Ray in response to a question from the press about why it was important to conceal the identity of the candidates applying.
    At the beginning of the meeting, Ray distributed a document detailing the firm’s findings in its efforts to help the school board narrow down its list of candidates.
    In all, 334 candidates applied for the job.
    Only 62 made it to Ray’s initial list of candidates for the position.

  • Board passes pay increases

    At its Tuesday meeting, the Los Alamos School Board passed a pay increase for all “classified” employees in the Los Alamos Public Schools. Classified employees are generally the employees in the system that are not licensed to teach or have backgrounds in teaching.
    Assistant Superintendent and Human Resources Director Gerry Washburn recommended to the board that it approve a 1.5 percent pay increase for the employees “across the board.” He said he and his staff arrived at this conclusion through careful research and input from various groups interested in improving compensation for classified employees.
    The next step will be to get the board-approved raises approved by the state, through the New Mexico Department of Education.
    For the past year, the administration has been grappling with the fact that the district’s classified employees have not seen a significant raise or cost of living adjustment in at least 15 years. The 1.5 percent increase is seen as a temporary fix until a study of the issue — which was also initiated this year — is completed.