• Aspen closed for summer

    A worker from Moving Solutions takes some items out of a portable classroom on the Aspen Elementary School campus, as Herb McLean, Construction coordinator for the district, takes a last look around. The Aspen Elementary Campus will be closed all summer due to construction.

  • District to add after-hours maintenance

    In an effort to be a better landlord to its clients the Los Alamos Public Schools System, the district is looking to hire an on-call, off-hour person to handle maintenance issues. According to school officials, the person they’re looking for would have the skills to handle anything from a clogged toilet to a blackout.

    According to District Assets Manager Joan Ahlers, there have been too many incidents in the last few months where their biggest client, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, has had some rough nights due to a clogged toilet or a blown fuse.

    “We’ve all been working really hard to improve our relationship with the lab,” Ahlers said to the board. She later added that the lab’s noted they get better service from other landlords after 3:30 p.m. “All I’m trying to do is position us so we can be competitive,” Ahlers said.

    What the administration had in mind was a $500 a month stipend to be paid to one of the school’s custodians to be on call after regular operating hours.

  • Crush It For Cancer

    Cancer can be a pretty hard thing to deal with, but when surrounded by your community, things become a little more bearable.

    Tuesday was sweet day at Los Alamos High School, kicked off by an Orange Crush as students and staff rallied in support of LAHS math teacher Marilyn Fabry.

    “Marilyn Fabry is, without a doubt, one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known,” said math teacher, Joy Handsberry. “She couldn’t be any funnier, any kinder, any stronger, or just generally any niftier. Her heart is as big as her home state of Oklahoma! We just wanted to show her how much we love her.”
    Fabry, who is battling cancer, has been fighting the good fight and this week had some inspiration to continue the battle.

    Head cheerleader, Joy Handsberry, with some help from Sherry Anderson and the AP psych students blossomed into the “Orange Crush It, Mrs. Fabry,” campaign. The morale booster was launched Tuesday, with some underground assistance from Stephanie Pittman, LAHS staff member and Mrs. Fabry’s daughter.

    “I loved it,” Pittman said. “It was wonderful to see the entire staff and student body come together to help uplift my Mom’s spirit. It was amazing!! She was so surprised and was just overwhelmed by all the support.”

  • Teacher raises included as part of new school budget

    The Los Alamos Board of Education unanimously approved a $35.7 million budget for 2013-14 during its meeting Thursday.

    The budget plan includes a 2 percent raise for teachers from a combination of state and local funding.

    While the raises were expected, there was debate among the board members as to whether or not the seven elementary teachers that retired this year should be replaced.

    Though they said the decision was a tough one to make, they ultimately decided not to replace the teachers since budgetary projections showed the board that due to the way the Public Education Department’s school funding formula is set up, they would ultimately stand to lose out on state funding critical to the operation of the school district in the future.

    Instead the board opted to use the money it does have to fund a reading coach for the five elementary schools, so the district would not have to discontinue the schools’ reading program.

    School Board president Jim Hall said he appreciated the budget committee’s input in helping the board finalize the budget. He also added reassurances that at some point, those teachers will be replaced.

  • Field day fun for Aspen students

    Aspen Elementary held it’s first “Field Day” a few weeks ago, much to the delight of students and teachers.
    The brainchild of Colin Hemez, a student at Los Alamos High School and Andy Garcia, a coach at Aspen Elementary School, the students participated in many activities, including: running races, “Zumba” excercises, ball games and just some good old running around. A couple of trucks from the Los Alamos Fire Department were there too, and firefighters were on hand to demonstrate some of the more interesting tools on board as well as give tours of the trucks’ interiors.
    “It was really fun. It felt like a celebration,” Kathryn Vandenkieboom, principal of Aspen Elementary said.
    She said not only did the kids get some exercise, but they learned teamwork as well.
    “Colin was looking to do a service project and he at first thought about organizing a race,” Garcia said. But after we met it turned into a field day for the entire school.”
    According to Garcia, it was the first time the school had a field day. It’s an event they hope to make into a tradition, he added.
    “Next year, the school will be in the middle of construction but the year after that we definitely plan to continue it.”

  • School passes new budget

    The Los Alamos Public Schools passed a budget Thursday, allocating $35.7 million for Los Alamos’ school students. The budget keeps the reading program intact for the elementary schools, but will not replace the seven retired teachers. However, there will be one “reading coach” to monitor the reading program at the elementary schools. Read about the budget in Sunday’s Los Alamos Monitor.

  • School district looks over funding snafu

    The Associated Press is reporting that New Mexico’s Public Education Department made a clerical error that added S218,076.73 in extra funding to the Los Alamos Public School District’s “at-risk” students fund.
    Each year, the PED gives schools a certain amount of funding to aid the district’s “at-risk” students. The funding amount is supposed to be based on the number of students the district has at that time. At-risk students are considered to be students who don’t attend school regularly, cannot speak English, or are considered living below poverty level.
    In the article, the PED is said to have made an alphabetical error in its annual list, due to where they placed West Las Vegas. This resulted in Los Alamos as one of the districts that received more funding than it should and others to have received less than they should, according to the article.

  • Field Day Fun at Sullivan Field

    The Los Alamos Public School District had a field day for its fifth and sixth graders at Sullivan field today. The students participated in many physical activities, including relay races, tug of war and other activities that tested coordination and balance.

  • Teacher suing district lost previous complaint

    A judgment made earlier this year by the New Mexico Human Rights Division of the State of New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions could affect the outcome of a pending lawsuit filed against the Los Alamos Public School District by a school employee.

    The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court by Mountain Elementary teacher Zeynep Unal, alleges she was forced out of her teaching position at Aspen Elementary through the use of trumped up disciplinary actions allegedly used to intimidate, harass and discriminate against her.

    “Defendants unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff through their repeated and continued harassment of her,” a statement in the lawsuit read. “The repeated and continuous harassment included unfounded disciplinary actions, an attempted improper termination and other adverse actions and unequal terms and conditions of employment.

    The Defendants engaged in this repeated and continuous harassment because of the plaintiff’s national origin in violation of her rights under federal and state law.”

    Unal is from Turkey. The lawsuit was filed April 18. Besides the Los Alamos School District, Unal also named Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt and Aspen Elementary School principal Kathryn Vandenkieboom as defendants.

  • New Rotary group raises funds to benefit local fourth graders

    A newly-formed satellite group of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos called STARS (Service to All Rotary Satellite) will host a fundraising event from 4-7 p.m. Sunday June 2 at the Dixie Girl Restaurant.
    The theme of the event is “Are You Smarter than a 4th Grader?” and all members of the community are invited to join. The evening’s events will include a trivia quiz competition for all ages, as well as an all-you-can-eat pasta buffet with salad, drinks and dessert.
    Funds raised at the event will benefit a program to provide four weeks of swim lessons to all 4th graders in the Los Alamos school district, a program that was eliminated several years ago due to budget cuts.
    Tony Hinojosa, Physical Education instructor at Mountain School, has been advocating to reinstate the program. He started by appealing to the Mountain School PTA to fund the lessons for its own 4th graders.
    This year, all Mountain 4th graders were given swim lessons at the Aquatic Center. In a similar program funded by the Mountain PTA, Hinojosa took 5th graders to Pajarito Mountain for ski and snowboard lessons.