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Education

  • Classes finishing up at LAPS

    Los Alamos Public Schools announced a revised dismissal schedule for the final week of the 2014-15 academic year.
    Students from Los Alamos Middle School will have no classes on May 29, the final day of the year. Students from Los Alamos High School will be released at 10:50 a.m. and elementary school students will be released at noon.
    LAPS said all schools will dismiss at the regular time May 26. On May 27, LAMS and LAHS will be released at the regular time, but elementary schools will have a noon release time.
    May 28 will be the final day of school at LAMS. Those students will be dismissed at 11:30 a.m.
    Elementary schools will be dismissed at noon May 28, while the high school will have regular release time.
    Graduation for LAHS seniors will be May 30.

  • Chamisa hosts its annual Wax Museum

    Students from Chamisa Elementary School in White Rock were busy this semester learning about historical figures, both from New Mexico and around the world.
    The middle team at Chamisa — third and fourth graders — were asked to research a prominent person from the past so well that they could imitate them.
    And that’s exactly what they did at the school’s annual Wax Museum earlier this month. Chamisa principal Debbie Smith said students in third grade were asked to look at the lives of anyone they wished who have had an impact on history, while fourth graders looked into figures from New Mexico. Fourth graders also built cubes with information on their figures.
    But the highlight of the project is the wax museum. Visitors from the community came into the school and put in tickets to bring the students — who dressed as their subjects — to life, reciting the facts about their figure’s life.

  • Steinhaus outlines 90-day plan

    Kurt Steinhaus, is wasting no time in getting acclimated to his new job.
    According his 90-Day Transition Plan he released earlier this week, it’s full steam ahead, with an emphasis on helping students achieve their best and building community relationships.
    Steinhaus is the new superintendent of Los Alamos Public Schools, taking over the job earlier this month for Gene Schmidt, who left after six years at the helm of the school district.
    By the time the next school year comes around, Steinhaus hopes to check off most, if not all the major goals of his plan, which include:

    • Creating a multimedia communication plan for better interaction with the community
    • Collaboration with Los Alamos County on its new “Los Alamos is a great place to work and raise a family” campaign
    • Alumni engagement
    • Successfully gaining approval from the New Mexico Public Education Department on the district’s customized version of the teacher evaluation process and testing

  • LAPS plan to help students catch up

    Los Alamos Public Schools has dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s on a policy it hopes clarify thing for high school graduates who are falling between the cracks when it comes to graduation requirements.
    For students who did not make the grade on the Standards Based Assessment exams (SBA) or the new testing standard, the Partnership For Assessment Of Readiness For College And Careers (PARCC), the school district has had an alternative means for those students to demonstrate competency.
    The problem was, up until now, the board did not have a clear policy stating those pathways. But now they do.
    According to school officials, the Los Alamos School Board may approve the new policy next week at its regularly scheduled meeting.
    The LASB recently took up the policy rewrite in April, an initially approved a first reading of the policy.
    “I think you could communicate to the high school staff… that this is highly probable and approved by the board,” said LASB President Jim Hall to administration officials at the April meeting about the chances of the policy being approved when the board meets again.

  • LAHS rated one of the top N.M. schools

    U.S. News and World Report recently released their ratings for the top schools in the United States and Los Alamos High School takes a gold medal. LAHS took the number three spot for the state of New Mexico behind the Albuquerque Institute of Math and Science and South Valley Academy.
    “The performance of our AP students and the high quality program that our AP teachers provides a visual comparison,” said Dr. Gene Schmidt, Los Alamos Public Schools superintendent. “A comparison that highlights performances higher than the national average as compared with students from around the nation.”
    One thing that adds to the success of LAHS in their ratings is the number of Advanced Placement or AP classes and how well students due in the course.
    “AP classes, in general, have a much faster pace than other classes, have students who are more motivated to dive into a subject or master it prior to leaving the high school,” said AP math teacher, Judy Nekimken. “Those classes have students who generally are pretty good at thinking analytically and my students are measured against many thousands of others who are taught the same demanding curriculum at the end of the course.”

  • LAPS says goodbye to Schmidt

    Friends and colleagues gathered at Fuller Lodge Tuesday to say goodbye and best wishes to Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt.
    Schmidt is leaving Los Alamos to be a superintendent of Farmington Public Schools.
    The president of the Los Alamos School Board, Jim Hall, publicly congratulated Schmidt on maintaining the Los Alamos Public School district’s rating as the best school district in Los Alamos and for shepherding a number of improvements to the district, including overseeing the construction of three schools and implementing academic and professional programs for students as well as teachers.
    “All of those schools came in on budget and on time. We gained significant national recognition for the quality of our schools. “We hired a lot of good teachers, principals and staff, and we helped them all grow. For example, we established a master’s program — we have 39 teachers getting their master’s — it makes a great difference in the growth, the quality and the capability of our staff,” said Hall to the audience.
    Many of Schmidt’s colleagues, including Hall, remarked how seriously Schmidt took being the public face, as well as an ambassador of Los Alamos Public Schools to the community.

  • State pulls its support funds

    The Los Alamos school district recently received word that when the time comes to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for another school reconstruction project, Los Alamos residents may have to foot the bill for the entire project.
    The Public School Capital Outlay Council, the organization that approves the granting of matching state funding for school construction projects, narrowed its criteria, only approving pre applications from districts that are qualified to receive 50 percent in matching funds or higher.
    The Los Alamos Public School is qualified to receive 42 percent in matching funds or higher.
    “They (the PSCOC) essentially decided to draw a line in the sand at districts that received 50 percent match or higher, and everybody else’s applications were not considered,” said Joanie Ahlers, Los Alamos Public Schools’ chief operations officer at a recent school board meeting. “Our pre-application, that the board approved, was not considered.”

  • LAHS students sought for board

    The Los Alamos School Board is seriously considering adding another member to the five member board and maybe even two.
    However, qualifications the board has set for these members rules out the majority of Los Alamos residents as the board is looking for just high school students.
    The idea is to enhance communications between the board and the high school’s student body so the board can make better and more informed decisions that impact the students. The board also hopes to instill a few civics lessons into the students as well.
    Recently, School Board Vice President Matt Williams communicated with Los Alamos High School Council President Esteban Abeyta and LAHS Council Vice President Jessica Hieroninus about the issue, as well as Debbie Belew-Nyquist, the school’s principal.
    According to Williams’ comments at the meeting, a number of ways to bring the new members into the fold are being considered, either through appointment by the high school’s student council or by the high school’s administration. Williams said Nyquist thought appointment by the administration might be the best solution.

  • Washburn offered a new job

    Los Alamos Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn has agreed in principle to a new job in Oregon.
    Washburn confirmed Saturday he is negotiating a contract to become superintendent of Roseburg, Oregon’s public schools.
    He is a longtime teacher and administrator at LAPS and coached the girls basketball team for a dozen years.
    The announcement comes just days before Superintendent Gene Schmidt starts his new job at Farmington.

  • LA School Board votes for budget

    The Los Alamos School Board passed its budget for 2015-16 Thursday night, but not after a lot of soul searching from administrators and board members, since this $38.6 million budget includes a list of $2.7 million in expenditures and business increases projected to be paid for through the district’s “lease funds.”
    Those are funding the district receives from its portfolio of properties it leases to businesses, including the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    Most of the properties are former school sites. At present, the lease fund contains a reserve of about $7 million, an amount that according to LAPS’ chief operations officer was built up over a period of 10 years.
    The $38.7 million budget was passed 4-1, with board members Bill Hargraves, Jenny McCumber, Andrea Cunningham and Board Vice President Matt Williams voting for the budget.
    President Jim Hall was the lone dissenter, stating that he did not believe in taking the $2.7 million in lease funds to balance the budget and urged his fellow board members to vote for asking the administration to take one more week to find ways to help the board reduce the $2.7 million deficit.