Pair of finalists picked for LAHS top job

-A A +A
By Carol A. Clark

A pool of eight applicants was pared down to two finalists for Los Alamos High School’s vacant principal position.

Interim LAHS Principal Sandy Warnock and Principal Claudia Krause-Johnson of Carlsbad’s Alta Vista Middle School are the finalists. Warnock was vice principal at LAHS and took over the head post after Principal Grace Brown retired in December.

Krause-Johnson formerly worked as vice principal of Los Alamos Middle School.  

An applicant screening committee consisting of parents, students, teachers and staff reviewed the eight candidates before advancing Warnock and Krause-Johnson as the top contenders for consideration.  

A “meet the high school principal candidates” forum is set for 6 p.m. Thursday in the LAHS Speech Theater. Parents, staff and community members are invited to submit questions by noon Tuesday. From this pool of questions, eight to 10 questions will be selected for Thursday’s event.

Both finalists will have 35 minutes to respond to the prepared set of questions. They also will share a brief background about themselves.

The finalists will have a busy day Thursday leading up to the evening forum. Teams of staff and community members will conduct morning interviews and a panel of students will interview the pair in the afternoon. They will also interview individually with Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Gene Schmidt.

“The highlight is the evening,” Schmidt said. “We won’t know what people want in their high school principal unless they tell us. Everyone is convinced the high school principal is one of the most important positions in the district, so choosing well will set us in a good position.”

It is the reputation of the high school, he said, that very often brings people to move to town.

Los Alamos has a history and tradition of having exceptional high school principals through the years and every generation of students excels in so many areas and that doesn’t happen without exceptional leaders, Schmidt said.

“It is an exciting time for us and we’re really looking forward to hearing from the finalists Thursday night,” LAPS Human Resource Manager James Telles said.

The first candidate will answer questions from 6-6:35 p.m. and the second candidate will answer questions from 6:40-7:15 p.m. Following each candidate’s presentation, those in attendance will have an opportunity to submit written opinions about the candidates on note cards provided at the event. Audience responses will be collected and presented to Schmidt for final review.

When both candidates have completed their questions, the ’Topper Advisory Council and PASS (Parents Advocating Student Success) will co-host a community reception until 8 p.m. in the LAHS office building lobby.

“High performing school districts are measured by their ability to prepare students with the communication and problem-solving skills to compete in an increasingly complex world. Similarly, great high schools engage students with a rigorous college and career path curricula, which enables graduates to maximize their potential,” Schmidt said. “Los Alamos High School is one of the best high schools in the nation. Moving from ‘one of the best’ high schools to ‘the best’ high school requires great leadership. That decisions looms before us now.”

Schmidt intends to announce the selection of the new principal by April 16.

The public may submit questions for the principal selection process on line at www.laschools.net or e-mail them to e.schmidt@laschools.net.