• Violence Against Teachers a 'Silent Epidemic'
  • Student council asks for dress code change

    If the student government at Los Alamos High School has its way, or more accurately the entire student body, students at the school could see a massive revamp of the dress code.

    Student Council President Soumyo Lahiri-Gupta, Vice President Jason Dunn and other officers of the council approached the Los Alamos Board of Education about making modifications a recent meeting.

    According to Dunn, their survey questions to the student population revealed two main gripes: the required length a pair of shorts must meet and the way the dress code is enforced.

    During the presentation, Board Secretary Matt Williams asked the students in attendance just how difficult it is to find shorts that go to four inches above the knee, the code’s current requirement.

    “It’s very hard,” said one student, while another added that Capri pants are another option, but “they aren’t shorts.” The students added that it gets very hot in the classrooms during the summer months, making it very uncomfortable.

    At the meeting, they presented the school board with a report of their findings as well as a suggested replacement of the code.

    “We believe that the adoption of this dress code will improve the overall morale at Los Alamos High School and increase student spirit,” Dunn said.

  • Torres wins top teacher award

    When Carolyn Torres, a math and science teacher at Chamisa Elementary School, won the Teacher of the Year Award for Los Alamos earlier this year, she automatically became a finalist for the state title — just like the 89 other teachers that won for their districts throughout the state.

    Tuesday, it was announced she won the state title.

    To put that in perspective, there are roughly 860 public and charter schools throughout the state, each staffed by an average of 20 teachers.

    Chamisa Elementary celebrated the day with a school assembly, where staff and her peers congratulated Torres as she sat where she seemed to be the most comfortable — right in the middle of her third grade class.
    Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt highlighted this fact during a special school assembly honoring Torres’s accomplishment.

    “I think of all of the schools, of which there are more than 800,” he said to the students, “I think of all the teachers in those schools of which there are more than 16,000, and here in Chamisa, you have the very best one.”

  • Chamisa teacher named tops in the state

    Carol Torres, center, shares a moment with her third grade students during a special school assembly honoring her accomplishment of becoming New Mexico’s Teacher of the Year. Check out the Los Alamos Monitor Wednesday for more coverage on the honor. 

  • Not good enough: Math, reading scores up slightly

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Sometimes the best isn't good enough: Most American fourth- and eighth-graders still lack basic skills in math and reading despite record high scores on a national exam.

    Yes, today's students are doing better than those who came before them. But the improvements have come at a snail's pace.

    The 2013 Nation's Report Card released Thursday finds that the vast majority of the students still are not demonstrating solid academic performance in either math or reading. Stubborn gaps persist between the performances of white children and their Hispanic and African-American counterparts, who scored much lower.

    Overall, just 42 percent of fourth-graders and 35 percent of eighth-graders scored at or above the proficient level in math. In reading, 35 percent of fourth graders and 36 percent of eighth graders hit that mark.

    Still, as state and federal policies evolve in the post-No Child Left Behind era, the nation's school kids are doing better today on the test than they did in the early 1990s, when such tracking started, with more improvement in math than in reading. Students of all races have shown improvement over the years.

  • Chamisa to 'raise the roof'

    From 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Chamisa Elementary will be hosting probably one of the most important events a parent can attend to help in their child’s education.

    The event will be held inside the school’s gym, and parents have the option to buy a pizza dinner.

    Called “Readers Raise the Roof,” the event is doubling as an introduction to reading for students in pre-K through third grade, as well as a workshop for parents looking for ideas on how to keep their kids interest up in reading when they aren’t in school.

    While the event is designed to be fun, there’s a serious motive behind it said Debbie Smith, the principal at Chamisa Elementary School.

    “At the youngest stages, a child’s first and most important teachers are their parents,” she said. “What parents do their children model, so what we want parents to do is model these best practices.”

  • Schmidt pitches flattening structure

    In an effort to reduce costs and make things more efficient, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt told the Los Alamos Board of Education he’s looking to streamline the structure of his administration.

    Already, he’s made the former head of human resources, Gerry Washburn, assistant superintendent, and put human resources under Washburn’s watch. At a recent work session with the board, Schmidt proposed even more changes.

    One of the more notable moves is his request would put the technology department under the curriculum department.

    “There are a lot of drivers behind this,” he told the board. “One of those is that increasingly, technology should be a support mechanism for curriculum.” Schmidt also said that by putting technology under another department, there will be much more transparency in the department as far as procurement and use of technology is concerned.

    “When technology was working as its own independent system, there weren’t really checks, oversights and balances, Schmidt said. “By putting the technology department under the auspices of director of curriculum and instruction, I believe we would have an oversight mechanism to make sure that the technology purchases and the infrastructure are used to benefit overall student achievement.”

  • District mulls upgrades

    With the availability of commercial real estate space in the Los Alamos market already starting to widen, the Los Alamos Public Schools is looking to keep on top of the changes by doing a little house cleaning.

    Besides being a school system to 3,000 plus students, the district is also one of the biggest landlords in town, in that it owns several commercial properties that house everything from small businesses to some off-site offices of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    Most of the buildings were at one time schools, revamped into commercial property as the population of school children in Los Alamos shrank through the years.

    The school district makes more than $2 million a year from leasing its properties, and will be soon adding to those revenues from the Trinity Site, once the new Smith’s Marketplace retail space is up and running on
    Trinity Drive.

    While LANL’s relationship with the schools has helped keep its properties occupied in a soft market, the district’s chief operations officer Joan Ahlers informed the Los Alamos Board of Education recently that this could change.

  • District to slow spending

    Though officials have taken a very conservative approach with the numbers, the Los Alamos Public School District is projecting a $2.9 million deficit in fiscal year 2015.

    The Los Alamos Board of Education conducted a work session Thursday to discuss the issue.

    Factors district officials included in their projections included hikes in health care costs, and increases in utility rates, along with regular salary increases.

    “Utility rate increases are budgeted as per discussion with Los Alamos County as follows: electric reflects a 6 percent (increase) for FY15, gas reflects a 5 percent increase in FY15 and a 10 percent increase in FY18, water reflects a 5 percent increase in FY15 and FY16,” according to a statement in a worksheet on the session.
    While a reduction in teaching staff was included in the district’s projections. Possible school closings or support staff reductions were not.

    “No cuts for classified staff are addressed in this analysis; classified staffing levels will still be required to support school sites at their levels,” read the statement, which included teacher assistants, secretaries, clerks and custodians in the analysis.

    Driving the deficit is also a projected steady decline in enrollment, which is where a reduction in teacher positions came from.

  • UNM-LA faculty to attend conference

    Three faculty members from the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos, will be attending a National Science Foundation (NSF) conference in Washington Oct. 23-25.
    Dr. Irina Alvestad, Dr. Kate Massengale and Professor Don Davis will be attending ATE@20: Sustaining Success and Advancing Innovation. ATE stands for Advanced Technological Education and is a special grant opportunity offered to two-year schools by the NSF.
    Attendees represent two-year colleges, business and industry, secondary school systems, four-year colleges and research and development centers covering projects in a wide variety of areas such as: information technology, engineering technology, micro- and nanotechnologies, chemical technology, biotechnology, and others. The American Association of Community Colleges is running the conference with support from the NSF. This conference is for Principal Investigators on grants and will bring approximately 850 people to focus on critical issues related to advanced technological education.