• Canyon School getting facelift

    The Canyon Complex, the low-profile building on Fourth Street owned by the Los Alamos Public Schools, will be getting an upgrade soon. The building is used as a training center for Los Alamos National Laboratory, but used to be Canyon Elementary School.
    According to school officials, the building, which is more than 50 years old, was due for some much needed cosmetic improvements on the outside, as well as some key improvements to the interior.
    When the project is completed, the building will be enveloped in a modern looking metal exterior designed to make the exterior facade look unified and modern looking. A key feature of that is extending the facade slightly beyond the roof so as to hide the boxy looking heating and air conditioning units on the roof.
    According to LAPS’ Chief Operations Officer Joanie Ahlers, the upgrade will cost about $640,000 and will feature some key interior improvements, as well.
    The renovation will primarily focus on the south wing, and will also include new bathrooms, doors and windows. The improvements, including the metal facade are also designed to improve energy efficiency.
    Carpeting will also be replaced during the renovation.
    Ahlers said the bid was originally just going to cover the facade, but the bids were so competitive, they were able to include the bathroom renovations.

  • Board hopefuls face issues

    At a recent League of Women Voters of Los Alamos forum, Los Alamos residents got a good look at the Los Alamos School Board candidates running for the three seats up for grab this election.
    Those candidates are Nan Holmes, William Hargraves and Sheryl Nichols in District 3, Andrea Cunningham and Michael Fassbender in District 4 and Jennifer McCumber in District 5.
    Many questions were asked of the candidates, and most of them were about funding.
    Barbara Calef, president of the LWVLA forum, kicked off the money questions asking about how the district can maintain a steady flow of funding.
    All of the candidates agreed that the expansion of community and county partnerships was the way to go.
    Hargraves told the audience that one has to be realistic, and that “they aren’t going to get a lot of money from the state.”
    Fassbender suggested forging as well expanding partnerships with local entities that already have limited partnerships with the schools, such a UNM-LA, the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the county in general.
    Holmes agreed with this, especially in the face of what she said were some upcoming challenges being faced by the school board this year due to a shortfall in the state budget.

  • UNM-LA Advisory Board candidates weigh in

    This may get a little confusing.
    There are four candidates running for two positions on the Los Alamos Advisory Board, the board that advises and guides the CEO of the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos campus.
    Three candidates are running for Position 3. They are Michael Dirosa, Troy Hughes and James Robinson. Anyone from anywhere in Los Alamos can vote for one of them, since the board has no districts.
    After that, voters can also go ahead and vote for Steven Boerigter, the incumbent and chairman of the UNM-LA Board, even though he is running unopposed.
    At Wednesday night’s League of Women Voters, Los Alamos voters forum, the three candidates for Position 3 got their chance to interact with the public to explain why they would be the best candidate for the job as well as answer questions concerning certain issues surrounding UNM-LA.
    Due to the rules of the forum however, Boerigter could not answer questions from the audience, since he had no challengers. However, he could give an opening and introductory statement, explain his viewpoints and perspective on certain issues, but nothing else.
    As a result, most of the UNM-LA Advisory Board section of the forum was dedicated to the candidates running for Position 3.

  • LAPS to lobby for slowdown of N.M. eval system

    When the New Mexico State Legislature meets this January, representatives from the Los Alamos Public Schools will be ready with their wishlist.
    According to a pamphlet that will be distributed to the legislature, that wishlist includes:

    • Increased salaries for all staff
    • Sufficient funding for the “above the line” budget
    • Flexibility when it comes to adoption of the state’s teacher evaluation system
    • Increased funding for transportation for all schools (not just charter schools)
    • Capital outlay funding for structural repairs to the Duane Smith Auditorium (mostly weatherproofing the outside of the building, stucco).

  • School board meets Tuesday

    The Los Alamos School Board is having its monthly board meeting Tuesday, Jan. 13 at the district offices of the the Los Alamos Public Schools, Suite V, 2101 Trinity Drive. The meeting starts at 5 p.m.

    Board presentations will include:

    • Recipients of Piñon Recognition certificates
    • LEGO League Award winners
    • Los Alamos Public Schools nominated as top place to work
    • Nominees for the New Mexico School Board Student Achievement Awards
    • Review of school board candidates
    • Recognition of former LAPS employees Janice Carroll and Terry Izraelevitz as published authors.

    Agenda items to be discussed include:

    • Superintendent search update
    • Aspen Construction report
    • Discussion of improvements to the facade of the Los Alamos Canyon Complex
    • Discussion of starting the 2015-16 Budget Process

    Before the public portion of the meeting, the board also plans to go into executive session to discuss impending legal action.

  • LAHS senior is accused of threatening coach, student

    Los Alamos High School student Andres Dow, 18, was recently summoned to Magistrate Court for allegedly harassing and bullying another student, as well as threatening a school employee with bodily harm.
    Dow was also immediately suspended from school because of his actions.
    According to parents of Dow’s 14-year-old alleged victim, Dow started showing up at the victim’s basketball practice “just to stare at him, which made (the victim) very anxious,” read a statement in the police report.
    As time went on, Dow allegedly escalated his harassment, and directly confronted his victim. The victim also said that whenever he would leave the campus for lunch, Dow would be allegedly be waiting for him, and Dow would just continue to stare at him.
    According to the police report, the victim tried to move away from Dow, but Dow continued to follow him around the gym no matter where he went.
    Things came to a head on another day when Dow allegedly grabbed the victim by the shoulders, pinned him up against a wall and told the victim to keep away from his girlfriend. When the victim attempted to escape, Dow, who is 5-foot-8 and weighs 140 pounds, allegedly blocked him, at one point grabbing him by the arm in an attempt to drag him outside “so they could fight without being at the school.”

  • School board is still busy with search

    While Los Alamos Public Schools wrapped up 2014 relatively neatly, there were a couple of loose ends that have yet to be resolved, ones that when they are resolved will have a far ranging impact on the lives of Los Alamos residents.
    Depending on how one of those is resolved, the outcome will surely impact their schoolchildren as well including students from outside the district — the Los Alamos School Board’s search for a new superintendent. The search probably won’t be completed until March or April.
    While the Los Alamos School Board could have probably wrapped the search up sooner, early on they decided to take advantage of the superintendent’s offer to stay until the end of the school year to provide a smoother transition for not only the outgoing and incoming superintendent, but for the board as well.
    LASB President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie said she is hopeful that with all the work the board and the community has put into the search, they are going to find a candidate everyone can agree on.
    “I expect we’re going to find a very well-qualified superintendent for our district,” Bjarke-McKenzie said. “We have so many people from the community involved in this search that we are going to find the perfect person.

  • Board reluctantly OKs the state’s eval system

    There were some big happenings in around Los Alamos Public Schools this year.
    There were some tumultuous moments in 2014, with teachers and administrators at odds over the state’s recommended teacher evaluation plans.
    In July, the Los Alamos School Board, faced with either adopting the New Mexico’s Department of Public Education’s teacher evaluation plan as is, or adopt one recently created by the district that NMPED would allow using its criteria and basic outline, reluctantly voted to adopt its own plan.
    At a June board meeting, Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt presented the board with its version of the plan, which was created with the help of a special committee of teachers and administrators.
    “The board actually has a choice. The choice is to not accept this plan, and the state will choose one for us,” he said. “Accept this plan as the best of the limited flexible opportunities we have, and in the minority report, we will express our concerns.”

  • Board updated on 5-yr. plan

    Where do we want to be? Where are we going? Where are we now?” and How do we get there?
    These questions were the guideposts the Los Alamos Public Schools used in its latest “Five Year, Facilities Master Plan Update,” the annual document that’s required by the Public School Facilities Authority and the the Public School Capital Outlay Council, if the district wants to remain eligible to receive funding assistance from the state for its capital building projects.
    The report was presented to the board by Sayre Gerhart, a senior facility planner with Architectural Research Consultants, an Albuquerque firm hired by the district and the school board through the PSFA to carry out this year’s assessment of the district’s 2015-2020 plan.
    Information for the report was gathered between April and August.
    Sources included members of the general public, county and state agencies, the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and the Los Alamos National Laboratory Community Programs Office.

  • UNM-LA board candidates file for ballot

    Besides school board candidates, the Los Alamos County Clerk’s Office also had plenty of candidates from the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos Advisory Board, show up, as four candidates showed up at the office to officially declare their candidacy Dec. 16.
    According to state election laws, candidates wanting to declare their official candidacy for the board in person must do so on that date.
    On Tuesday, UNM-LA Advisory Board Chairman Stephen Boerigter put in his reelection bid, declaring for “Position Four.” Since no other candidates for the position came in that day, most likely Boerigter, the incumbent, will go unchallenged during the Feb 3 elections, unless a write-in candidate files on or before Dec. 30, the cutoff date for doing so.
    That same date applies for potential Los Alamos School Board candidates as well.
    “Position Three” was the only other seat up for grabs, as the person who occupied that position, Linda Hull, opted not to run again.
    Candidates that showed up for the position on Tuesday included Troy Hughes, Michael Di Rosa and James Nealy Robinson.
    For Boerigter, running for reelection was an easy choice.