• Candidates file for election

    Tuesday was a busier day than usual at the County Clerk’s Office, as eight candidates hoping to take a seat on the Los Alamos School Board dropped in to fill out their election paperwork.
    According to state election laws, Dec. 16 was the only time residents interested in running for a seat on the board could formally declare their candidacy. In the upcoming Feb. 3 election in 2015, three districts will be up for election, districts 3, 4 and 5.
    Candidates filing for District 3 include NancyAnn “Nan” Holmes, the incumbent, Sheryl Nichols and William Hargraves.
    Candidates for District 4 include Andrea Susan Cunningham, Naishing Key and Michael Fassbender.
    Candidates for District 5 are Judy Bjarke-McKenzie, the incumbent and current president of the school board, as well as Jennifer Elizabeth McCumber.
    Holmes was appointed by the school board to fill out the rest of former school board David Foster’s term, who recently moved out of state. District 4 is the only district that does not have an incumbent running, as school board vice president Kevin Honnell opted not to run for another term.

  • Superintendent: Kids should stay at school today

    This morning, Los Alamos Superintendent of Schools, Gene Schmidt, released the following statement for Los Alamos Public Schools parents:

    Currently road conditions are snow covered and slippery.  The bulk of the storm is expected to pass through by noon. Los Alamos County road crews are sanding and plowing the roads.
    If your children are already at school the safest place for students and staff are to remain in school. This will give the County time to clear the roads. At this time our plan is to release all schools at their normal Wednesday dismissal time. As always, parents may choose to pick up their children early.
    It is important to remember that any closure or early dismissal is coordinated with the Los Alamos National Laboratory and Los Alamos County.

    New information will be posted on LAMonitor.com as it becomes available.

  • Last portable is hauled off campus

    Recently, Jaynes Construction Supervisor Sam Burns guided the last classroom portable from Aspen Elementary School around 33rd Street toward Villa Street.
    With that, and the construction of the newly-completed school, 17portables that once housed Aspen Elementary students for the past fourteen months have been removed from the construction site.
    Over the past several weeks, commuters and motorists in the Aspen neighborhood have waited patiently while portables were moved to grounds opposite Los Alamos Middle School and adjacent to Chamisa Elementary School for temporary storage until the district decides the next school renovation or remodel project.
    Kathryn Vandenkieboom, Aspen Elementary Principal, said the school is embarking on a new era.
    “We are so grateful for our permanent school,” Vandenkieboom said. “When I went out back the other day to look and they were gone, I was shocked that the space was so big. I’m so excited that the open space will become a soccer field and play space for children. We are so happy with the new school.”
    Vandenkieboom also thanked teachers, students and parents for their patience during the construction of the new school.
    She also said the new playground facilities will be completed in the spring.

  • First draft of superintendent flyer released

    The Los Alamos School Board recently took a huge step in its search for a new superintendent. It published and released a prototype flyer to the public on what it’s looking for in a superintendent, and what candidates for the job can expect from the district.
    Some of those requirements include the following:

    • “Inspires trust, self-confidence and models high standards of integrity and personal performance with the ability to develop and communicate a vision of quality education for the future to the board, staff and community,” read the first requirement for the job in the pamphlet. The second requirement was about management style and inclusiveness:

    • “Has knowledge of and successful experience in sound fiscal practices and management of district resources, including appropriate participation of others in planning and decision-making.”

  • Martinez proposes teacher pay bump

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Gov. Susana Martinez announced an $11.5 million package of proposals that includes paying new teachers more and creating a mentorship program that her administration hopes will eventually lead to improvements in student achievement.
    New Mexico consistently ranks at or near the bottom when it comes to education, and Martinez said during a visit to Zuni Elementary School in Albuquerque that increasing pay for starting teachers by $2,000 will help make the state’s recruitment efforts more competitive.
    If approved by the Legislature, starting pay for a teaching job would be $34,000 per year, and any teacher currently earning less would receive a raise.
    “Starting teacher salaries are too low in New Mexico, so we need to raise them again,” Martinez said in a statement.
    Last year, the state budget included an increase in the minimum salary for new teachers to $32,000 per year.
    The latest proposal would cost the state an estimated $6.7 million to raise the base salary again.

  • EMS program gets boost by passage of Bond ’C’ in election

    The University of New Mexico Los Alamos received some life saving support for its Emergency Medical Services program when voters went to the polls Nov. 4.
    Voters across the state were able to do that by voting for the “Bond C” question, which allowed the state to release $140 million in general obligation bonds to help fund some apparently much needed capital improvement projects within the state’s network of special schools tribal schools, colleges and universities.
    The question on the ballot was: “Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $140 million to make capital expenditures for certain higher education, special schools and tribal schools capital improvements and acquisitions and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?”
    The $140 million will be distributed among at least 20 educational institutions across the state. UNM-LA will be receiving a half million dollars of that funding, which will be used to renovate and design a space for its emergency services program.
    UNM-LA CEO Wynn Goering made the announcement at a recent UNM-LA Advisory Board meeting.

  • LA school district honored in Santa Fe

    School board president Judy Bjarke-McKenzie and school board member Nan Holmes, along with superintendent Gene Schmidt and Quality New Mexico board member Bill Wadt attended a Quality New Mexico recognition ceremony hosted at the Governor’s Mansion Wednesday.
    Megan Baldrige, daughter of Malcolm Baldrige (for whom the Baldrige Award is named), was on hand to congratulate the award recipients.
    Included in the presentation was a certificate, which stated, “The House of Representative of the State of New Mexico Congratulates 2014 New Mexico Performance Excellence Awards Program — Los Alamos Public School District — Piñon Recognition Recipient.” The certificate went on to state the House of Representatives, “Does hereby extend its congratulations and acknowledgement; and further does herein direct that this official expression of its pride be forthwith sent on behalf of the people of the State of New Mexico.”
    New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran spoke on behalf of Governor Susana Martinez. Duran congratulated Performance Excellence Award recipients for their accomplishments. She complimented award recipients for striving for excellence and creating a culture of continuous improvement.

  • Career day

    UNM-LA staff hosted a presentation for home school students Thursday. Tables and information were set up for three hours and a tour was given to the students.

  • UNM-LA to host college day for area homeschoolers

    Homeschoolers from Los Alamos and surrounding school districts are invited to attend a Homeschool College Day at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos. This free event will take place 1:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday in the Lecture Hall in Building 2 on the UNM-LA campus
    UNM-LA advisors and faculty members will be on hand to discuss opportunities for high school aged students and the specifics related to Dual Credit and Concurrent Enrollment.
    Kathryn Vigil, UNM-LA Student Enrollment Director said, “The New Mexico Legislature has revised the Dual Credit program to include Homeschool students and make them eligible for the tuition waiver and other benefits that come with the program. UNM-LA and the Homeschool community have a long history and strong relationship.
    Parents and administrators will have the opportunity to discuss process, policy and opportunities while students can engage in a variety of interactive college classroom activities.

  • School board to look at pay for classified employees

    They make sure your child’s trip to school, as well as the return trip, is safe and uneventful. And when they are in school, they make sure the classroom is warm when it’s cold out, and cool when it’s hot.
    At lunch time, they make sure the food they provide is safe and nutritious. They fix the boo boos. They make sure the lights stay on and the messes are cleaned up so students have a safe and distraction-free place to learn in. They take care of the paperwork and keep the computers running. They do a lot of other jobs too.
    They are the Los Alamos school district’s “classified” employees. They may do every other job that doesn’t involve teaching, but those jobs are just as important.
    At a recent school board meeting, school administrators and representatives of the classified employees seemed to agree on one thing about what classified employees do; they aren’t getting paid enough to do it.
    Assistant Superintendent and Human Resources Director Gerry Washburn told the board that while the district’s annual 2 percent raise rate is better than the state (.6) as well as the nationwide average, “if we’re going to attract the best and brightest, we got some issues,” he said.