Bond measure calls for win-win

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By Gabriel Vasquez

The school board met Thursday to discuss issues related to the 20-Year Facilities Renewal Plan, approval of the FY08-FY09 budget, and school policies dealing with length of teacher contracts, employee directory listings and student cell-phone use.

“We had our fourth meeting with the county this week,” LAPS president Steve Girrens said. “It was a brainstorming session for possible ways to get assistance (for the 20-Year Facilities Renewal Plan). Some of the ideas range from what will be in it for both sides, it has to be a win-win.”

A potential trade-off would be to release land considered “dead property” to the county.

“Is it a win-win?” board member Allison Beckman asked. “Is it not good enough that you have schools that draw people here?”

LAPS Superintendent Mary McLeod explained that both the schools and the county must support each other’s efforts, and that all options must be explored in order to ensure the success of the upcoming bond measure.

“We’re looking at ways to do something where both of us come out clearly supporting one another,” she said.

The board also strategized its approach for an upcoming meeting with the Legislative Educational Study Committee, an agency that helps determine the amount of state funding the district will receive.

Beckman and board member Jody Benson agreed to lead the efforts to ensure that the schools get the maximum amount of state funding, through comparison with similar districts in the state, and a planned comprehensive presentation of economic shortfalls it is encountering due to rising food and energy costs.

In other business, the board unanimously approved its 2008-2009 operational budget, to the tune of $84,012,948.

Several school policies were also reviewed and modified at the meeting.

Teacher contracts were extended to 186 days (185 previously). Student cell phone use at LAHS, previously prohibited during the entire school day, will now be allowed during passing periods and lunch.

It will still be fully prohibited at the elementary schools and the middle school.

A directory of employees, listing their LAPS e-mail and telephone number, will now be available at schools’ front offices and online at the district’s website.

Before adjourning, board members reviewed the results from the 2008 Senior Exit Survey. Student participation in the study was unusually low due to the survey being administered two weeks before school was out, when many students had already stopped attending class.

Despite the small sample, some interesting findings and correlations came about from the study.

Out of 49 seniors asked, 13 reported experiencing “significant harassment” from other students.

Fifteen reported that they were not prepared to transition to college or vocational/technical school, and similarly, 10 students said that their learning experience at Los Alamos High School did not encourage them to continue their education.

Board member Kenneth Johnson said although the schools may be preparing students academically for college, many of them are not socially prepared to make the leap.

“High school does nothing to address that,” he said.

In other findings, only 34 students reported that the IMC/Library met their academic and personal needs, while 38 reported that they used the library’s on-line collection – a trend that Johnson said indicates the increasing importance of digital media.

The next regular board meeting is July 8.