• School board business
  • Los Alamos schools earn top ranking in accreditation

    The Los Alamos Public School District recently learned that its achieved a rare milestone as far as school systems are concerned. “AdvancED,” an accreditation service that grants district-wide accreditation status to school districts, recently told the district that it has received the highest level of accreditation, which, officials say, is very rare.

    It was in November of last year the district learned it received accreditation from AdvancED after a lengthy review and evaluation process, but until recently district officials didn’t know what grade or level of accreditation.

    “I am proud to say that Los Alamos Public Schools did receive the highest status possible,” New Mexico’s AdvancED director, Priscilla Fernandez said in a statement. “Fewer districts throughout the nation received fully-accredited status compared to years past, due to the rigor involved in the accreditation process.”

    According to the same press release, there will be immediate benefits for high school students because of the accreditation and grade of accreditation.

  • Union term questioned

    At some point in the coming school year, the Los Alamos Board of Education, the Los Alamos Public School District and the Los Alamos Federation of School Employees will be sitting down to hammer out some key terms in the most recent Memorandum of Understanding between the district and the union.

    Some of the terms came to light during a May school board meeting, where board member Dr. Kevin Honnell asked his fellow board members to table proposed changes to the MOU due mainly to the fact he thought they shouldn’t accept the way the changes were presented to them. That issue was covered in an article in Tuesday’s Los Alamos Monitor.

    However, there were specific reasons the board tabled the proposal, primarily because those reasons had to do with certain terms the union wanted to substitute when it came to referring to specific employees. 

  • School board to meet with union


    Before the new school year resumes, officials from the Los Alamos Public School District, the Los Alamos Federation of School Employees and the Los Alamos Board of Education will be meeting to clear up some communication issues in the most recent Memorandum of understanding between the school district and the labor union.

    During a meeting in May, school board member Dr. Kevin Honnell brought those issues to light during a session concerning proposed language changes in the MOU. In that meeting, Honnell urged his fellow board members to table the series of MOU proposals for a later date, until they can arrive at some fundamental understanding as far as communication protocol is concerned.

  • College Student Loan Rates Set to Double
  • Board set to decide payback timing

    During its meeting in July, the Los Alamos Board of Education will unveil a plan to pay back the $218,000 it owes New Mexico’s Public Education Department.

    In May, the PED notified all of the school districts throughout the state that it may have paid them too much or too little in funding to help with at-risk students due to an alphabetization error.

    As it turned out, Los Alamos was paid too much, to the tune of $218,000.

    At that meeting, the board will then make a recommendation to the district as to what options it should pursue.

    “We would like your guidance,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt said to the board. “That guidance could be to pay it all back in one lump sum, it could be to pay it back 1/12th the amount monthly over the course of a year, or we could delay it for five years.”

  • LAPS officials mull refund

    It looks like the Los Alamos Public School District will have to give back the money after all.

    A few weeks ago, the New Mexico Public Education Department announced that it had made an accounting error when it came to distributing funds meant to compensate school systems for the number of “at-risk” students they are educating. At-risk students are considered to be students who don’t attend school regularly, cannot speak English, or are considered living below the poverty level.

    The amount LAPS is going to have to refund the state amounts to $218,076.73.

    On Tuesday, LAPS school officials, including Chief Financial Officer John Wolfe and Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt, met with officials from the PED over the issue.

    At first, the PED said they were going to let the school districts that were affected keep the money, but then they decided not to.

    “They received some feedback from various folks, and they found they had to take it back because of the legal issues involved,” Wolfe said.

    Though the school board has not been consulted yet, they are meeting with the board this Thursday to discuss the issue, Schmidt and Wolfe both said the most likely option they will settle on is paying it back through the next school year.

  • Hope Floats in a Concrete Canoe

    Does concrete float? Teams representing 23 schools were judged on how well they applied their engineering skills to building boats from concrete. The concrete canoes were more than four times heavier than same-size canoes made of wood.

  • LAHS advances in national rankings

    Los Alamos High School has had quite a run lately in terms of national rankings.

    LAHS received “Silver Medal” status in 2013 as one of America’s Best High Schools in an annual ranking by U.S. News & World Report. From a review of 21,035 U.S. public high schools, Los Alamos ranked 556th in the nation. The LAHS ranking was up significantly from the 2012 “Silver Medal” ranking of 638th.

    Rankings of high schools are largely determined by participation in Advanced Placement courses.

    This past year, 49 percent of the 1,124 Los Alamos High School students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses. Other academic indicators used in the ranking are College Readiness Index, Math Proficiency, Reading Proficiency, and Student/Teacher Ratio.

    Los Alamos High School also checked in at No. 780 on the Newsweek top 1,000 school list. The list is based on six components: graduation rate (25 percent), college acceptance rate (25 percent), AP/IB/AICE tests taken per student (25 percent), average SAT/ACT scores (10 percent), average AP/IB/AICE scores (10 percent) and percent of students enrolled in at least one AP/IB/AICE course (five percent).

  • Kiwanis honors

    Jordan Ahlers will be attending Hillsdale College in Michigan and will study pre-law or engineering. Ahlers was one of 10 students that received a scholarship from Kiwanis for school expenses. Pictured from left to right are: Gary Ahlers, Jordan Ahlers, Don Casperson, Joni Ahlers and Morrie Pongratz. Kiwanis meets at noon each Tuesday at Trinity on the Hill Church in Kelly Hall.