LA schools receive $138K

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Education: Funds from state meant to champion success

By Tris DeRoma

The Los Alamos Public Schools got a nice surprise recently when it learned the state has awarded four of its schools $138,000. The schools are Los Alamos High School, Piñon Elementary, Barranca Elementary and Mountain Elementary.

LAHS received $65,958.03; Mountain received $26,700.90; Barranca received $23,448.38 and Piñon received $22,283.53.

According to New Mexico’s Public Education Secretary Designate Hanna Skandera, the funds were part of Gov. Susana Martinez’s “Real Accountability, Real Results” legislation to improve the state of New Mexico’s public school system. The law, passed in 2011, is designed to help schools that need improvement as well as reward those that are doing well. One of the key components of the law was assigning each school in New Mexico an easily identifiable letter grade.

“The bottom line we said that since the school grades law was passed we want to champion success, and this is our opportunity,” Skandera said.

The funds will be used to invest directly in the students through either the purchase of educational software, books or other teaching aids that would directly benefit the students.

“I would like to personally congratulate the teachers, teams and students at each one of these schools for their commitment to success, keeping the bar high and giving no excuses. It can be done and they delivered for our kids,” Skandera said.

Skandera said the varying amounts were based only on the number of students.

LAPS Assistant Superintendent Paula Dean said the windfall was unexpected.

“...We were very happy to get this,” Dean said. “We know the state was providing incentives for the lower performing schools but we never thought there would be money left over for the top performing schools.”

Principals of the Los Alamos schools that were awarded funding said they already knew how they are going to spend the funds.

Barranca Principal Pam Miller said, “some of this money will certainly go to the library for books that will support our common educational core and our ‘Laser 13 Science project.’ We will probably look at e-books for the kindergarten, first and second grade students.”

LAHS Principal Sandy Warnock said the high school will use the money to maintain the school’s performance record as well as to prepare for some impending educational requirements.

“We are organizing a team to set up parameters for how we can use this money to sustain our ‘A’ status and to address the new ‘Common Core State Standards,’ which are coming to the high school next year.”