• Making progress at Aspen

    It was a cold Thursday morning with a little snow as construction workers with Jayne’s Construction stack steel girders as they prepare to do more work on Aspen Elementary School.

  • UNM-LA tightens belt

    The advisory board for the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos campus as well as the school’s administration recently took a hard look at the school’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2015,
    Though the UNM-LA proposed budget for 2015 is a little leaner than the current year’s budget, it won’t be meaner, in that the school’s administration has managed to preserve all of the classes and services students will need to complete their degree programs.
    “We have no plans to discontinue any degree or certificate programs we currently have listed in our roster.” Campus Director Dr. Cedric Page said. He also added that the school is currently pursuing grants that will help aid student performance, and that they will be trying new strategies to increase the enrollment numbers for next year.
    UNM-LA’s approved budget last year was $5.9 million; this year’s proposed budget is $5.5 million. Though the advisory board put its stamp of approval on it Monday, it still has to go before the University of New Mexico’s Board of Regents for final approval sometime in the next 10 to 15 days.

  • New LAHS principal hired

    Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt announced Tuesday that Dr. Deborah Belew-Nyquist will be the next principal of Los Alamos High School.
    “...During my one-on-one interview, I perceived a strong research-based educator who brings a student-focused to learning,” said Schmidt in a press release. “It is my belief that as the next Hilltopper administrator, Dr. Belew-Nyquist will continue to build on the educational excellence of the school and serve effectively with vision, compassion and professionalism.”
    As of last week, the candidates came down to Belew-Nyquist, who is from the state of Washington and Michael Johnson, the high school’s assistant principal.
    During an interview session that included school officials, the general public and high school students, many were impressed with Belew-Nyquist’s vision of what public education should be about.
    “The question is ‘what’s my vision.’ Well, when I’m working in schools, it’s not what my vision is, it’s what our vision is,” she said last week. “I truly believe that educating our children is a shared responsibility of parents, staff, students and the community.”

  • LA to benefit from Torres’ travel

    Though Teacher of the Year Carolyn Torres will be traveling the states as part of her new status this year, it will be the community of Los Alamos that stands to benefit the most.
    She’s already been out to Arizona, where she’s met the other teachers of the year from the other states during a weeklong conference in January. She described it as a prep course for what to expect on her tour, as well as a way to get acquainted with her fellow teachers.
    “We did our introductions, practiced our speeches and learned what will be expected of us,” Torres said.
    The Teacher of the Year Award is sponsored, in part, by The New Mexico Public Education Department and TEACHNM, an organization that offers teachers career guidance.
    The score is partly based on a description of how and what they teach and how they apply Common Core techniques. Her tour is being sponsored in part by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
    Of course, Los Alamos has been helping her get ready for her tour as well. Earlier this month, Beaver Toyota stepped forward with a leased, 2014 Toyota Corolla to help her get around within the state, and countless businesses including C.B. Fox, Smith’s and others helping her with her wardrobe and travel expenses.

  • Top teacher hits road

    New Mexico’s Teacher of the Year, Carolyn Torres, will be doing quite a bit of traveling this year as part of her new title. Find out more in the Los Alamos Monitor Sunday.

  • Board, superintendent agree to transition to replacement

    The Los Alamos School Board agreed to extend the contract of Superintendent Gene Schmidt by one year during a special board meeting Thursday night.
    According School Board President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie, the deal will give the board time to find a new, permanent superintendent and provide for a more stable transition that will not involve an interim superintendent who some may see as a diminished position.
    The year will also give Schmidt time to see some of the projects he initiated come to fruition.
    “Instead of having two transitions involving an interim superintendent, then later on a new superintendent, we thought that would be too confusing,” Bjarke-McKenzie said, adding that the board will be working on a list of candidates throughout the year.
    Schmidt, too, said that it was the right thing to do, especially for the students.
    Board members also expressed concern that the succession issue was taking time away from what’s supposed to be a priority — educating students.
    “That will be our goal over the next year,” Schmidt said. “We will continue to raise student achievement, as well as work on what the transition to the next superintendent is going to look like, and I look forward to my role as a guide in that process.”

  • Principal candidates make case

    The two remaining candidates vying to be Los Alamos High School’s new principal had a big day Monday, as they made presentations to the student body at the school. They made a similar presentation to the general public in the school’s Speech Theatre later that evening.
    Michael Johnson’s and Deborah Belew-Nyquist’s 45-minute presentations included a question and answer period.
    Both candidates have extensive experience in education management and teaching. Johnson is presently an assistant principal at Los Alamos High School. Belew-Nyquist is presently working as an educational consultant for the International Education Director, Children of Nations in Port Orchard, Wash.
    The candidates shared their vision for the school.
    “My vision is to engage the students, as well as educate and inspire them,” Johnson said, adding that he would do that by providing students with “a good, hard-paced curriculum that’s relevant and has lots of options and extracurricular activities.” He also said he would make room to provide as much individualized instruction as possible.
    Belew-Nyquist said that if she was hired for the job, her vision would be an inclusive one.

  • LAHS principal finalists

    Candidates looking to be Los Alamos High School’s next principal met with the public Monday. Each had a change to give a presentation and mingle with the public. 

  • Super's resignation acceptance still pending

    The past six weeks have seen a lot of speculation as to the Superintendent of Schools’ employment status. There has even been speculation within the school board itself as to what to do with Schmidt’s resignation offer.
    Though the board has not officially accepted the offer, Schmidt has applied to become Taos’ next superintendent, ending up on a short list of eight candidates for the job.
    And still, the board has not said exactly why it has not officially accepted Schmidt’s resignation, nor has it officially responded to Schmidt’s main reason for wanting to leave. When he announced his resignation six weeks ago, he said one of the reasons he left was that he did not feel he had the board’s full support.
    School Board President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie said it’s quite possible Schmidt’s employment status will be settled once and for all when the board meets with Schmidt Thursday during a special session.
    “We’re going to have another conversation with him, because there seems to be some miscommunication among the board members, too. “Thursday, in our executive session, I think we will be able to clear some of this up, she said. “By the the time we have our regular meeting that night there should be more clarification.”

  • Schmidt on Taos short list

    Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt is apparently on a short list of candidates for a superintendent of schools position with the Taos Municipal Schools.
    Taos School Board member James Sanborn said their interview committee, which is made up of teachers, school administrators, the Taos parent-teacher organization and the Taos Pueblo has recently honed that list down from 18 candidates to six plus two alternates.
    Sanborn declined to give specifics on why the eight candidates were chosen, saying it was a committee from the New Mexico School Board Association that started the process.
    “They organize a small committee of people to come up with questions and issues that get used in the initial screening,” he said.
    He did say the board is formulating questions to ask them at a later date, possibly April 5.
    “Tonight, the school board and the committee are having a meeting tonight to put together a list of questions to ask the candidates,” he said. Sanborn added they hope to have a new superintendent in by July 1, the start of the district¹s fiscal year.