• Board puts landscaping up for bids

    The Los Alamos Board of Education recently opted to put the landscaping piece of the middle school construction contract out for bid after officials realized they could probably get more for the taxpayers money if they did so.

    Originally estimated at $240,000, the price tag had to be clipped to $125,000 to make up for underestimates that cropped up in other parts of the construction project.

    “When the overall cost of the project came in, we wanted to reduce that by about $115,000,” said Los Alamos Schools Superintendent Dr. Gene Schmidt. “Then the question between the schools and builder became if you take $115,000 out of that landscaping, how much landscaping do you have left?”

    According to Schmidt, there was a “decent amount, but the hope of the board was to have a great landscape.”

    When the high school was being renovated and rebuilt, the board did the same thing, Schmidt said, a move that accomplished all their landscaping goals but for $40,000 less.

  • Martinez hails 7 point jump in NM high school grad rate

    RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's four-year high school graduation rate jumped to 70 percent just a year after federal data showed the state's 63 percent rate was one of the worst in the nation, Gov. Susana Martinez announced Thursday.

    Speaking in front of students from Rio Rancho High School, Martinez called the seven-point spike a "mile marker" and said the improvement in just a year's time was evidence that New Mexico schools could provide the needed services to help students graduate.

    "While we have a long way to go ... I do believe the schools all across our state have taken on the challenge of keeping our young people in high school," Martinez said. "And I think our students are responding well to the high expectations."

    Martinez said the state's "A through F" grading system paired with preventative measures helped schools improve student achievement.

  • DIY mover plans LA location

    The Los Alamos Board of Education voted to approve a lease for a U-Haul facility at Pueblo Complex, a former school property that is still owned and managed by the district, located at 1900 Diamond Dr.

    The franchise, which is synonymous with do-it-yourself moving and storage, is actually an added location for a business that’s been operating in Pojoaque.

    U-Haul had a facility on DP Road at one time, but parking problems and other issues caused the business to give up the location, according owner/operator Victoria Work.

    At the LAPS board meeting, the assets manager for the Los Alamos Public School District Joan Ahlers, told the board the company is only interested in a six-month lease.

    “U-Haul is a little nervous,” Ahlers told the board. “They haven’t been treated with open arms necessarily, so they are a little skittish.” She added that hopefully things will work out for the company and they will be able to extend the agreement into a one or two year lease.

    She also told the board that the moving service plans on being good neighbors with the other businesses.

  • District financial report gets an 'A'

    Among the more serious findings of a yearly audit of the millions of dollars in state and federal funding that flows through the Los Alamos Public School System: LAPS spent $12 more than it should have in special education. The firm conducting the audit also found that a $78 check that was not cashed, was not taken off the books in a timely manner.

    According to Griego Professional Services LLC, an accounting firm approved by the New Mexico State Auditor’s Office of Management and Budget, that was very good news to the LAPS officials. The auditor was hired by the Los Alamos Board of Education.

    During the presentation, J.J. Griego, principal at GPS LLC, thanked District Finance Officer John Wolfe and others for making the huge task easier.

    “The audit went very well this year and we were able to be in and out earlier than ever this year,” Griego said. “That’s in no short order to Mr. Wolfe, the finance department as well as all the departments we worked with including the federal programs, the state programs and pretty much everybody else.”

    However, Griego also made it clear he works for the school board.

  • AG finds LAPS board erred

    The New Mexico Attorney General’s office found that the Los Alamos Board of Education violated the Open Meetings Act following an inquiry by the Los Alamos Monitor last June.

    The school board, however, adopted a resolution in a June 28 meeting intended to cure the OMA violations regarding the May 24 meeting and the AG’s office was satisfied with that, but also pointed out other areas of concern.

    In its letter, Assistant Attorney General Mary Smith wrote, “A public body can legally correct prior mistakes and effectively give legal force to its prior invalid actions.”

    But Smith also said the board did violate the OMA “regarding the agenda for, actions taken at and the minutes of its May 24, 2012 meetings.”

  • Super spellers
  • Lecture hall bears Wallace’s name

     Jeannette Wallace’s children, Dr. Terry Wallace and Janice Parra, cut the ribbon on the plaque at the dedication of  Jeannette Wallace Hall at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos. 

  • UNM-LA dedicates lecture hall in Wallace’s name

    The community is invited to pay tribute to the memory of Jeannette O. Wallace from 12:30-2 p.m. Sunday in room 505 (Building 5) at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos.

    In honor of her service to the Los Alamos community and commitment to education, the faculty and staff of UNM-Los Alamos will dedicate UNM-LA’s newest lecture hall in her name. The dedication will take place at 1 p.m.

    Wallace, a longtime community leader, died from illness in April 2011. She was serving her 11th term as a New Mexico State representative, which she won at the age of 76. Since 1991, Wallace served New Mexico District 43 which covers Los Alamos, Sandoval and Santa Fe counties. Wallace was a member of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee as well as the Health and Government Affairs committee and the Printing and Supplies committee. She had previously served on the Los Alamos County Council and was one of the co-founders of the Leadership Los Alamos program.

    Campus Resources Director Lisa Wismer worked with Wallace’s family and artists Don Taylor and Ken Nebel to design the plaque for the lecture hall. The plaque will be unveiled at the dedication.

    Directions and parking for the dedication can be found at la.unm.edu/PR/campus_map.html.

  • Seen @ The Scene: LAMS construction

    Workers brave the cold temperatures as construction continues at the Los Alamos Middle School.

  • Vigil honors victims

    As the crowd huddled with their candles in the cold twilight at Ashley Pond Friday evening, Soumyo Lahiri-Gupta, president of the Los Alamos High Student Council, started reading the names many of the attendees were already too familiar with, even though Newtown, Conn. is 2,000 miles away.

    As he made his way down the list of names and ages of victims in the horrific tragedy from just one week ago, some looked straight ahead and some bowed their heads in silent prayer. Many also wept.

    Gupta organized the candlelight vigil, saying it was something he had to do.

    “It reminded me of Columbine,” he said. “People needed to think about this, they needed to let their sadness out, because no matter who you are, this affects everyone.”

    Featured speakers at the event included county council Chair Sharon Stover and Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt.

    “Tonight, we’re here because we care about others,” Schmidt said to the crowd. “It is my belief that love is stronger than hate,” Schmidt told the crowd. “It is my belief that light is stronger than darkness. That’s why we’re here today with our candles.  …My guess is that there are many candles burning tonight for the children of Newtown, Connecticut.”