• Parker takes the helm at Barranca

    The Barranca Elementary Bobcats will start the year with a new leader at the helm: Bradley Parker.
    Parker has been in education since 1990, working as a teacher at Santa Fe High School and Los Alamos Middle School. He holds degrees from West Virginia University and the University of New Mexico.
    Parker has been an administrator since 1996, serving in school administration at the Pre-K to 12 levels in Santa Fe, Rio Rancho and Jemez Valley. He also served his administrative internship at Mountain Elementary.
    “For three years I was at the Public Education Department in the Priority Schools Bureau and the Career Technical Workforce Education Bureau,” Parker said. “I have been lucky to work for some great folks!”
    Prior to entering the world of education, he was a professional Naval Officer finishing his career as a Reserve Officer and retiring at the rank of Commander (O-5). He was stationed mostly in the United States, but his favorite duty station was Pearl Harbor, where both of his children were born.
    Parker and wife Cindy have been married for 30 years. They have two sons, Ben and Adam, both Eagle Scouts and college graduates.
    This summer you may have found him fishing, camping and canoeing. When time doesn’t permit for those things he likes to play the guitar.

  • New pay option for student fees implemented

    Forget the lines and checks getting lost in the mail ­— earlier this summer, the Los Alamos Board of Education cleared the way for high school students and their parents to pay lab and other student fees like they probably do with many other things these days, online.

    Principal Sandra Warnock said the old way meant parents would have to pay all those fees during registration.

    “This way, they can pay before beforehand, so registration will be a little bit more streamlined for them,” she said.

    By Thursday, students should have already received their registration packets and fee information through the mail, according to Warnock. Once they get their total, they just simply have to go online to powerschool.laschools.net/public/home.html and follow PayPal’s gold and blue buttons. Students who do pay prior to registration will need to bring the receipt.

    “Paying ahead of registration day will be a huge timesaver for parents and their students. The most important thing to remember, however, is for the student or parent to bring the payment receipt with them to registration,” a statement in a school announcement about the new pay option said.

    Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt said implementing the new option was all about convenience for students and parents.

  • NM providing back-to-school clothing assistance

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez's administration plans to distribute about $1 million in assistance to help children in low-income families and foster children prepare to return to school.

    The Human Services Department will provide $50 for each eligible low-income child for back-to-school clothes. Federal money will cover the estimated $755,000 cost.

    The aid will help about 15,100 children and will be distributed through electronic benefit cards to qualifying families.

    The Children, Youth and Families Department will provide foster families $100 to buy back-to-school supplies and clothing for each foster child who is age three and older.

    About 1,500 to 1,600 children could qualify for the assistance, which will cost up to about $160,000 and is financed with state money in the agency's budget.

  • School board approves contractor for parking lot renovation

    The Los Alamos Board of Education recently approved a contractor to renovate the parking lot for the school administration headquarters at 2075 Trinity Drive.

    The winning and lowest bid was awarded to ESA Construction with a base bid of $253,800.

    The bid also included alternatives, one for landscaping, another was for a wall and the last was for additional paving near the headquarters’ additional suites located adjacent to it. The school district currently rents those suites to other businesses.

    ESA’s bid for the landscaping was $32,200, the wall was $18,700 and the paving was $21,100.

    The board then had a discussion on whether or not to approve some or all of the alternatives.

    Board approval of all alternatives would put the total cost of the project coming in at $306,800. That number may go down in the future however, since the district has also put a capital request of $64,000 in to the county. As of press time, the current status of that request is not known.

  • Schmidt, board narrow goals

    For the past two months, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt and the Los Alamos Board of Education have been talking about goals for the coming school year.

    Recently, the board gave the superintendent five major goals: 1. Prioritize the superintendent’s Strategic Plan. 2. Increase his personal presence throughout the school district, 3. and 4. Initiate a thorough review of the Central Office and Classified Office and 5. Improve the school district’s long term financial stability.

    In his most recent report to the board, Schmidt included a list of 49 smaller goals relating to the five major ones. They included goals such as improving the evaluation process for teachers and administrators, reassessment of the effectiveness of Saturday School and Academic Achievement time, researching salaries in other districts, implementing Master’s degree programs with area colleges and LANL, and developing a cash reserve system that protects the school system from fluctuations in funding.

    During his presentation to the board, Schmidt said he realized he included a lot of goals, mentioning that the list was the result of ongoing discussions with the School Board President Jim Hall.

  • School board to review cyber-bullying policy

    According to the state, the school district has until August to implement a cyber-bullying policy in an effort to tackle what appears to be a growing problem. To that end, school board and district officials started on the long process of defining just what cyber-bullying is.

    The board was notified by Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn that they had until August to implement a policy, as instructed by the state. The N.M. Legislature passed a bullying law that called for every school board to have a bullying prevention policy by 2011, a bullying prevention program by 2012 and a cyber-bullying policy by 2013. At a meeting in July, Washburn presented a policy to the board for review, one the district had written up by its law firm.

    Board members had many questions, one of them being how is the district governing social media between students and teachers.

    “What’s the thinking in regards to that whole area,” Board member David Foster asked. “....maybe we’re opening up two communities of communication that are better to be kept separate.”

    Washburn admitted that that area has been a little hard to define.

  • Auditor orders special review of special education

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State Auditor Hector Balderas has ordered a special audit of potential funding problems for special education programs that could cause New Mexico to lose millions of dollars in federal money.

    Balderas told the Public Education Department on Monday in a letter that he hopes a report will be done before the Legislature meets in January.

    At issue are federal requirements for states not to cut their support for services for special education students.

    New Mexico potentially ran afoul of those requirements when lawmakers cut state aid to public schools to help balance the budget several years ago after the economy weakened.

    The federal government has agreed to waive its funding requirements for 2010, but questions remain about other budget years.

  • Board decides best way to refund state

    Pay it all off at once, or do it one payment at a time. That was the choice given to the Los Alamos Board of Education this week in reference to a miscalculation made by New Mexico’s Public Education Department.

    Earlier this year, the PED inadvertently paid LAPS $218,000 more than it should have for its at-risk student program. At first, the PED said districts that it overpaid could keep the money, but after some lengthy consultations with its legal experts, the district is going to have to pay the money back.

    “I’m looking for direction as to how we do that,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt said to the board. “One possibility that Dr. Honnell brought up was to pay it all back at once, and we could do that.”

    Schmidt said the other option would be to pay it out in $18,000-a-month payments over the next year.

  • 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.