• LA gun show location questioned

    Some current and former educators in Los Alamos are questioning whether the community’s school system should continue to allow a gun show to be held in a gym in a long-closed school.

    The Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club has held its annual gun show in the school-owned Pueblo Gym for nearly all of the past 17 years, but critics say they just realized that.

    The 2013 sale began Saturday and runs until Sunday.

    Former high school teacher Nancy Schick cites on-campus school violence such as the killings at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school and at Columbine High School in Aurora, Colo., and says it seems inappropriate to allow guns on school property.

    Los Alamos school superintendent Gene Schmidt says he’s not aware of any real debate about the gun show and that the club staging the show is meeting a community need.

    Schick submitted a letter to the editor that was published today by the Los Alamos Monitor.

    The Los Alamos Monitor will report more on this issue this week.

  • District officials ponder master’s program

    In an effort to increase the number of teachers with master’s degrees in the school system, the Los Alamos Board of Education is thinking about starting an exclusive partnership with either Highlands University or the University of New Mexico.

    The subject came up during a planning session the board conducted Thursday.

    “We had two very nice conversations, one with Highlands, and the other with the University of New Mexico, on what they could provide if we were to contract a master’s degree cohort, Superintendent Gene Schmidt said.

    Schmidt also noted that both programs would allow the teachers to take up to six credits before being officially accepted in to the master’s degree program.

    According to Schmidt, there is a significant cost difference between the two programs.

    “That different cost is potentially important, because the conversation we would like to have is, ‘how could the district fully fund a master’s degree program for our staff,” he said, noting that the Highland program would cost around $234 a credit while UNM’s program would cost approximately $420. Both programs would contain 37 credits.

  • SFCC earns national accreditation

    The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. has announced that the New Mexico Energy$mart Academy at Santa Fe Community College has earned national accreditation for all of its weatherization training programs: Retrofit Installer Technician, Crew Leader, Energy Auditor and Quality Control Inspector.
     SFCC is one of only nine training centers nationwide accredited for energy efficiency programs and one of only two that are accredited in all job task analyses. The IREC credential is an internationally recognized mark of quality for education and training providers and instructors in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
    “SFCC is especially pleased to be among the first in the country to be accredited for all four energy efficiency job task analyses developed by the Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Labs,” Dr. Ana “Cha” Guzmán, president of SFCC said.
    “As a relatively new program nationally, SFCC is very proud that the Energy$mart Academy has achieved IREC accreditation, which places us among some of the established stars of the energy efficiency training world,” Amanda Evans said.

  • 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.