School Board breezes through Tuesday night’s agenda

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By Carol A. Clark

Three of the five school board members attending Tuesday’s regular meeting in the district boardroom whipped through the topics, unanimously passing several in short order.

A $5,000 funding transfer for Los Alamos Middle School’s cafeteria program, the 2009-2010 budget and a one-year lease extension for Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) were all approved.

Board Secretary Jodie Benson led the meeting as President Joan Ahlers and Vice President Ken Johnson were absent.

June Gladney addressed the 20-year Facilities Renewal Plan saying the committee has narrowed the pool of architectural firms that responded to the request for proposals to construct B, C and D wings at Los Alamos High School.

“We got great proposals and we could have easily short listed seven of the firms,” she said.

Gladney informed board members she would be contacting them to verify whether any of the three finalists contributed money to their campaigns. She also informed them that selection committee members will attempt to tour one facility designed by each of the finalists.

Also, the finalists, all from Albuquerque, will visit Los Alamos June 26 for presentations and interviews in three separate meetings. Public meetings for the architectural firm to obtain input will follow the successful selection of a firm.

“We’re hoping to demolish B, C and D wings starting the day after school ends next May,” Gladney said.

The district’s $1 annual facility lease with PEEC at 3540 Orange St. runs out June 30. Because the state board of finance requires a value-added amount be determined on leases, LAPS Business Director John Wolfe suggested an initial one –year extension, which can later be increased to multiple years.   

Co-founder and President Chick Keller expressed delight with the plan.

“I think what you’re doing is just right in trying to be tidy …,” he said.  

Keller serves as facility director for the educational nature center, whose meager beginnings have mushroomed into a highly respected community success story.

Countless volunteers now devote their time and expertise to PEEC. Children and adults throughout the area participate in the center’s many nature programs.

PEEC has grown into a source of pride for Los Alamos and once a value can be identified, the district intends to enter into a multiple-year lease agreement.

Keller is a retired scientist from Los Alamos National Laboratory and his life-long interest in nature and passion for identifying native plants has led to his creation of PEEC’s herbarium collection of some 1,500 specimens.

Also, Keller and wife Yvonne are avid birders, participating in the New Mexico Breeding Bird Atlas project with a study plot in the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

Superintendent Mary McLeod presented a status report to the board on the Trinity Site Development Project. “Joan (Ahlers) and I have a meeting with Tony Mortillaro on June 25 and we’ll then know the outcome of whether Boyer is onboard,” McLeod said. “That’s the end of my report.”

The board is scheduled to hold a special meeting and work session at 6 p.m., June 25 in the district boardroom to hear a presentation on this year’s PRIDE Survey. The meeting is open to the public.