Staff Day highlights accomplishments, goals

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Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS) Superintendent Gene Schmidt detailed the district’s accomplishments and initiatives at the Back to School Staff Day.
Those included:
An acknowledgement of community members and organizations that offer continuing support to the schools, including Representative James Hall and Council Chair Sharon Stover.
A thank you to the Los Alamos Fire and Police Departments for protecting the community and school during the Las Conchas fire, and to the custodians who had to do a second yearly cleaning after the fire.
Appreciation for the efforts of Kurt Steinhaus, director of community programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), and the LANL Foundation to create a partnership with the Smithsonian Institute to bring “hands on” science into the schools this year.
An announcement about a LAPS Foundation pilot program to place 50 Kindles in classrooms this year. “This may be the first time in Los Alamos history that you don’t see students with 35 pounds of books in a backpack,” Schmidt said.
The Long Range Financial Planning Committee was lauded for finding ways to cover a $600,000 shortfall and for convincing Moody’s to raise the school’s bond rating.
In academic achievement, Schmidt said achievement scores had either been maintained or surpassed the previous year’s, despite the fact that the proficiency index had been raised this year. Specific examples included:
• Aspen 5th grade writing proficiency, 94.7 percent and Piñon 6th grade, 90.1 percent.
• Chamisa 6th grade reading, 95 percent and Mountain 3rd grade, 91 percent.
• Barranca 3rd grade math, 88 percent.
The high school graduation rate has risen from 82 percent two years ago to 87.5 percent. The Middle school was at 80 percent or higher the last four years.
Schmidt stressed broader goals as well. “I want to remind you of the district’s nonnegotiable goals,” Schmidt said. “This represents our core belief: that 100 percent of students can graduate. 100 percent of students can achieve measurable growth. 100 percent of our schools can be safe and civil.”
Schmidt also addressed the district’s goal to become one of the Top 100 school systems in the nation. “You are my pathway to the Top 100, and I celebrate and salute you for doing so well in the classrooms.”