• No more tuition increases at UNM-LA until spring 2014

    The University of New Mexico’s Board of Regents voted Tuesday for a tuition increase, a three percent raise for faculty a one percent raise for staff, as well as a one-time, $1,000 supplement to UNM staff.
    The increase, which is for the main campus only, will be 6.6 percent for students who are taking 15 or more credits. For those who are taking up to 15 credits, the tuition increase will be 13.2 percent.
    What does this mean for the students on the Los Alamos campus?
    According to UNM-LA Director, Dr. Cedric Page, while the 3 percent raise and the $1,000 supplement applies, the 6.6 percent tuition increase does not. Instead, at some point in the future, maybe as soon as the spring of 2014, the Los Alamos campus will adopt a 5.6 percent increase to accommodate the 3 percent raises and the $1,000 supplement.
    For now, however, Page said the current tuition fees at the Los Alamos campus remain firm and will not be changed. “We’ve already published our tuition rates for the summer and the fall and that’s what students will be paying,” Page said.
    The Tuesday vote ended a moratorium on raises that lasted for several years. Page said the raises and the supplements were to help counter that.

  • LAMS unveils first new classroom

    Los Alamos Middle School officials, representatives of the construction company and students invited the public to a very special milestone: a look at the first classroom of the school’s new campus. And it wasn’t just any classroom either; it happened to be the “Living Skills” classroom, the classroom where the school’s special-needs students learn basic life skills in order to gain a degree of independence.

    The school’s orchestra was on hand to kick off the ribbon-cutting ceremony with a rousing rendition of Keith Sharp’s “Fiddle O’Finnigan” before Principal Rex Kilburn welcomed everyone inside the spacious room, which, with its kitchen, resembled a two-room apartment more than a classroom.

    Kilburn first thanked the community for approving the second $20 million bond issue that allowed the school district to continue the construction.

    “We wouldn’t be here without the community supporting the bond and letting this construction go on,” Kilburn said.

    He also thanked Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Paula Dean and the Los Alamos School Board.

  • LA school board to streamline meetings

    Education is one thing and construction is another, according to the Los Alamos School Board’s new president, Jim Hall.

    In an effort to streamline board meetings and put more focus on educational topics, Hall and the rest of the board have opted to have meetings that focus solely on education issues and then have meetings on the ongoing construction taking place at the Los Alamos Middle School and Aspen Elementary School on another day. 

    The board has also opted to select and group “routine” items from the regular agenda and put them into a consent agenda so they can treat the group as one item.

  • Aspen classrooms to shrink under new plan

    The redesign plans of Aspen Elementary were changed recently and those design modifications were revealed in a school board meeting. The school’s trademark 1,000 square-foot classes will need to be smaller.

    According to Ray Vigil, the lead architect from the firm Vigil and Associates, they were told in a recent meeting with the Public Schools Facilities Authority that they would have to reduce the size of each classroom to 850-square-feet.

    Vigil told the school board the reduction would accomplish two things, bring the project back into line with the original budget, and comply with the PSFA’s standards for class size.

    “By reducing a little bit of over two feet from each classroom we were able to shave off 6,000 square feet,” Vigil said. “So that little piece of everyone reducing their area gave us a large bang for our money, which helps bring us into our guaranteed maximum price as well as in compliance with the request from the Public School Facilities Authority.”

    Vigil estimated the reduction will ultimately take about $600,000 to $800,000 off the cost of the project. The total price tag for the makeover project is estimated to be around $12 million.

  • The official wave

    Los Alamos Magistrate Judge Pat Casados administered the oath of office to incoming school board members Matt Williams and Jim Hall. Shortly after completing their oath, Hall was voted in as president and Williams was elected secretary of the school board. 

  • School Board serenade
  • Senators postpone vote on NM education secretary

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Senate's top Republican leader complained Saturday that politics had become a driving force behind a lengthy confirmation hearing for Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera, who is awaiting a vote by lawmakers with no guarantee it will happen before the Legislature ends.

    The Senate Rules Committee spent three hours questioning Skandera on Saturday and listened to seven hours of public testimony a week ago. But there was no vote by the committee and chairwoman Linda Lopez said it was uncertain when the panel would again consider Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's choice to run the Public Education Department. The Legislature adjourns in a week.

  • Schools respond to weapons incidents

    A rash of incidents involving students bringing “deadly weapons” to school has prompted Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Gene Schmidt to issue a statement regarding the events.

    “It is important for the community to know that student safety is non-negotiable and that students who bring weapons to school will be disciplined,” Schmidt said. The full version of his comments can be found by clicking here. “Parents are encouraged to talk with their children about the importance of following rules written in school handbooks.”

    Schmidt also stressed in his statement that his coming forward on the issue should not be a cause for alarm. He noted that of the 3,500 students enrolled in the school system, only a few students were caught with what could be called weapons in the past few weeks.

    One incident involved a student, who brought a black-handled folding knife with a four-inch blade to school. He was turned in by students, who heard him talking about the knife. Though the incident was reported on a Friday, (Feb. 22) the juvenile wasn’t disciplined until Monday when he made a full confession to authorities about why he brought the knife to school.

  • District slates kindergarten roundup

    It’s one of the first milestones a parent experiences in the school career of a child: that moment when they get on that big yellow bus and go off to school for the first time.

    It can be a pretty scary experience for both parent and child, but the Los Alamos Public School District appears to have things covered.

    Though kindergarten doesn’t start until September, LAPS is conducting its annual “Kindergarten Roundup” sessions in March and April.

    According to Assistant Superintendent Paula Dean, the event is designed to prepare everyone involved, including teachers, for how many kindergartners are coming to each school each year and how that figure is going to impact resources. Those eligible for the roundup include children who will turn five by Sept. 1.

    The event also aims to help parents prepare for the transition as well.

    “The purpose is the same everywhere, and that is to ‘round up’ the kids and their families, and to give the parents and children an idea of what to expect for kindergarten,” Dean said.

  • Young artists show off their work