• Teachers at the Roundhouse

    Many Los Alamos teachers came to show support of what they believe is the course the state needs to take to help students. Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) spoke to the crowd of more than 600 people during the rally earlier this month.

  • Prom organizers meet to check out Buffalo Thunder

    POJOAQUE — Parents, school administration officials and prom organizers recently met with officials from Buffalo Thunder Resort. According to Peter Lovato, Buffalo Thunder’s director of catering, they were there to look at where the students will be spending their prom as well as logistics.
    The group met in the lobby of the hotel, which he made clear was a separate entity from the casino part of the complex. He told them that the resort has catered to and accommodated more than 30 proms in it’s history of existence, as well as other high school events, such as Junior ROTC balls and various school-related conferences.
    “So, we do have a broad outreach to the various surrounding communities,” Lovato said to the group, before taking them on a short tour of Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder.
    The tour also included the hotel’s ballroom, which according to Lovato is the biggest ballroom in the state. Known as the Tewa Ballroom, which measures 16,500 square feet.
    Lovato said if the organizers were to go with their facility, they would lend the group about a third of the ballroom, which includes one or two “bays” within the 16,500-square ft. area. That would give the students plenty of room to host a dinner, dance and have a great time, he said.

  • Education Briefs 2-18-15

    School district looking to award
    ‘excellent’ students

    The Los Alamos Public Schools and the Los Alamos School Board is now accepting applications for their annual “Excellence For Student Achievement Award.”
    Los Alamos Public Schools will choose a recipient through an open nomination process.
    The nominee should be a person in the Los Alamos School District who has made a significant difference to student achievement during 2014. Nomination applications are available on the school district website, from School Board members, or by calling the district office at 663-2230.
    To be considered, the nomination must be returned to the district office by close of business day Feb. 25.
    The selection for the 2015 Achievement Award winner will be announced at the March 10 school board meeting.
    The award seeks to promote enhancement of student achievement and to focus the school board on efforts to improve student achievement.
    The 2015 winner will be recognized by the Los Alamos Public Schools Board in March 2015 and presented a plaque provided by the New Mexico School Board Association.

    LAPS hosting speech, debate tourney

  • Skandera wins confirmation vote in Senate

    SANTA FE — After a grueling grilling by the Senate Rules Committee a few hours before, the New Mexico Senate, after spending another 2-1/2 of debating the issue, finally decided to make Hanna Skandera New Mexico’s education secretary.
    The official senate vote was 22-19.
    Since she was appointed to the post by Gov. Susana Martinez in 2011, Skandera had been referred to in the media as well as by her colleagues as “education secretary designate,” due to the fact the State Senate had never previously approving Martinez’s appointment.
    But Monday, her confirmation finally made it out of the Rules Committee and onto the senate floor where the education reforms she’s tried to carry out in the past four years came under fire and praise.
    When she took office in 2011, Skandera was tasked by Martinez with trying to reform New Mexico’s public education system which has come last or near last in most polls relating to public education.
    Skandera focused on revamping the state’s teacher evaluation system.
    She also implemented a program that held back third grade students who did not pass state standards for reading proficiency.

  • Search continues for new super

    The Los Alamos School Board recently met with members of its superintendent search team, hoping to narrow down its list of 14 candidates even further.
    According to School Board Secretary Matt Williams, the board succeeded in narrowing the list down some more, though he could not say by how much or give any other details about their Feb. 12 meeting.
    “I would just say we had our list of quarterfinalists, and we have whittled the list down to semifinalists,” Williams said.
    The meeting was led in part by Ryan Ray, the executive director of Ray & Associates, the school executive recruitment firm hired by the board to help it in its search.
    All persons involved in the search have signed a confidentiality agreement so as not to reveal the identities, or ways to identify, candidates that have applied for the search.
    “They all have very good jobs already,” said Ray in response to a question from the press about why it was important to conceal the identity of the candidates applying.
    At the beginning of the meeting, Ray distributed a document detailing the firm’s findings in its efforts to help the school board narrow down its list of candidates.
    In all, 334 candidates applied for the job.
    Only 62 made it to Ray’s initial list of candidates for the position.

  • Board passes pay increases

    At its Tuesday meeting, the Los Alamos School Board passed a pay increase for all “classified” employees in the Los Alamos Public Schools. Classified employees are generally the employees in the system that are not licensed to teach or have backgrounds in teaching.
    Assistant Superintendent and Human Resources Director Gerry Washburn recommended to the board that it approve a 1.5 percent pay increase for the employees “across the board.” He said he and his staff arrived at this conclusion through careful research and input from various groups interested in improving compensation for classified employees.
    The next step will be to get the board-approved raises approved by the state, through the New Mexico Department of Education.
    For the past year, the administration has been grappling with the fact that the district’s classified employees have not seen a significant raise or cost of living adjustment in at least 15 years. The 1.5 percent increase is seen as a temporary fix until a study of the issue — which was also initiated this year — is completed.

  • Prom to be at Buffalo Thunder

    Los Alamos Public Schools announced today that the 2015 Junior-Senior Prom will be held at the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino near Pojoaque.

    A pair of informative sessions will be held to answer questions parents and students may have. They are scheduled for Feb. 17 and Feb. 19. The Feb. 17 meeting will be held at the Buffalo Thunder hotel lobby starting at 6:30 p.m. and the Feb. 19 meeting at the high school speech theater starting at 6 p.m.

  • Officials defend principal’s actions

    The first thing Olivia Lujan, an AP Physics teacher at Los Alamos High School and Student Council Adviser Joanne Ploeger want the community to know is that they hope the organizers of this year’s prom are successful in their endeavor.
    However, there are some things they claim the local media didn’t get right about an earlier story regarding a “confrontation” that took place between two Los Alamos School Board members, Lujan, High School Principal Debbie Belew-Nyquist and High School Athletics Director Ann Stewart Jan. 12.
    In a story about the incident, the Los Alamos Monitor described the event as one where school board members Nan Holmes and Judy Bjarke-McKenzie were escorted off the campus because Belew-Nyquist didn’t want them there.
    Recently, Ploeger and Lujan sat down with the Los Alamos Monitor to tell their side of the story, and what they said happened that day.
    “What we really want to see is facts,” said Ploeger. “What we’ve read, up to this time, has been about emotions, and people’s perceptions, not actual facts.”

  • Plans for Buffalo Thunder prom are still on track

    Prom organizers were greeted with cheers and applause from the Los Alamos High School’s senior class Wednesday as the high school’s junior class, the class that’s sponsoring the prom, filled them in on their plans to host their plans at Buffalo Thunder Resort.
    The ticket prices will be $50, which includes a three-course meal and the dance. The minimum financial commitment is $6,000, which equals a minimum of 120 participants.
    According to Lisa Montoya, chief financial officer for Los Alamos Public Schools, Buffalo Thunder has committed to a maximum of 500 prom attendees. Historically, average prom attendance has been between 320 to 370 persons, according to administration officials.
    Prom organizers have until March 1 to meet the minimum financial requirement to reserve the venue. According to the school administration, the students have been busy raising the funds needed to make their plan work.
    Reports are the school’s annual ’Topper Revue has been very successful.
    For those interested in attending, performances are 7 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Monday.
    Also, Buffalo Thunder Resort Event Organizer Peter Lovato has offered prom organizers the use of its shuttles to and from the prom.

  • Foundation accepting proposals

    The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is planning to award grants for innovative ideas that augment the basic curriculum from licensed teachers in the district.
    Parents can team with licensed teachers to apply for grants. The Spring Great Ideas Grant applications are due Feb. 17. Applications must be received by 4 p.m.
    Grants will be awarded in May. Grant winners must implement their proposed projects by December 2015. 
    For additional information, to view past winners, or download the grant in PDF or Word form, visit the Foundation’s website at lapsfoundation.com under the “Teacher Grant” icon.
    Additionally, proposals are being accepted for Professional Developments Grants.
    The 2015 Professional Development Grant window is open and proposals are due by the Feb. 17 deadline.
    The intent of the LAPSF grant is to fund professional development opportunities for the summer or fall of 2015. Professional development grants are for teachers to attend training or to provide training to others within the local public district.
    Grant Proposals that will be considered include the following:
    • Educators who will attend training with the goal of bringing newfound knowledge in a content area back to their school, department and students.