Newly elected school board members share priorities

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By Carol A. Clark

Elected by voters Feb. 4, new school board members Thelma Hahn, from White Rock District 1, and Melanie McKinley from White Rock District 2, were sworn in during the state school board meeting in Santa Fe Friday.


“We’ve been at the state board meeting all day and heard that all the districts are receiving shortened budgets and I wonder how that’s going to affect out school, programs and teachers,” Hahn said. “It’s going to call for some belt-tightening.”


Hahn was joined at the state school board meeting by LAPS Mary McLeod and veteran school board members Ken Johnson, Jody Benson, Joan Ahlers and new board member Melanie McKinley.


“During the annual meeting, school board members from all 89 school districts met to talk about legislative issues and met with legislators,” she said.


Identifying a new superintendent tops Hahn’s list of priorities, she said. “Another thing since the bond issue has passed is to make sure that it gets going correctly and I would like to see knowledgeable people make sure the money is used wisely and implemented in a timely manner.”


Hahn previously served on the school board from 1997-2001. She worked as an art teacher in the Los Alamos Public Schools for 26 years and has served as Artist in Residence at a couple of the elementary schools since her retirement.


She also teaches art at her White Rock studio and said now that she is back on the board, the only teaching she can do at the schools is in a volunteer capacity to avoid any conflicts of interest.


McKinley also ranks selecting a new superintendent as one of her top priorities. “We have to get this done,” she said. “I’m looking forward to receiving resumes and reviewing them and making a selection.


Setting the 2009-2010 budget is another high priority, McKinley said. “The state just said we’ll be receiving less funding and I think that’s tough when you’re three fourths of the way through the year.”


The board needs to look at making do with less money, she said, and uncovering areas that can be cut. They also need to look at wh


ether the schools can be more efficient McKinley said because she doesn’t think the district is going to be flush for a while.


“I’m excited – I think we have a really good board and I look forward to being able to make a difference – although I know that it’s going to be a lot of work,” she said.


McKinley decided to serve on the board because she has four children in the district in seventh, fifth, third and first grades.


I am also a 1988 graduate of Los Alamos High School and would like to see our schools remain a stellar example to the rest of the state and even the nation."


EDITORS NOTE: Newly elected UNM-LA Advisory Board members share their priorities in Tuesday’s Monitor.