• Schmidt accepts new post in Farmington

    Los Alamos Public Schools superintendent Gene Schmidt has a new job, but he won’t have a lot of time to celebrate his acquiring it.
    Schmidt, who is stepping down from his position at LAPS, is taking the superintendent’s job at Farmington Public Schools.
    Farmington, which is in the Four Corners area, is one of the larger school districts in the state, with roughly 11,000 students and 1,200 staff members in 17 separate schools.
    Schmidt, who was stepping away from his position with LAPS following the end of this academic year, applied for the job at Farmington two weeks ago. He said the process was accelerated at Farmington because of the impending retirement of Janel Ryan, the longtime superintendent, who made that announcement in December.
    Schmidt said he’s looking forward to the challenge.
    “The attraction is more than just a person telling good stories about a school system. It’s about a school system in transition. They’re looking for leadership that would help move them forward in, I’ll call it an ‘excellent journey.’ Right now, Farmington has a number of their schools, by definition, are failing. A number of schools are ‘Ds.’ That is a leadership experience that I’ve had before.”

  • Schmidt taking job in Farmington

    Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Gene Schmidt said today he has signed a letter of intent to take over as superintendent of the Farmington Public Schools.
    Schmidt signed the Letter of Intent Thursday evening. Schmidt will be stepping down from Los Alamos Public Schools following this academic year.
    More information will be in Sunday's Los Alamos Monitor.

  • LAHS grad earns major scholarship

    Los Alamos High School graduate Anna Scott was named a recipient of this year’s Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation scholarship.
    Scott, who is currently majoring in chemistry at Montana State University, graduated from LAHS in 2013. According to her profile, Scott is working toward a Ph.D. in bioinorganic chemistry and wants to conduct research at the university level studying the interface of biochemistry and inorganic chemistry.
    Scott’s Goldwater Scholarship recipient announcement was made this morning via tweet by Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    To be considered, students must display academic merit in mathematics, science or engineering and nominated by faculties of universities.
    In all, 260 scholars were honored and almost all of them intend to earn Ph.Ds.
    The one and two year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
    The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency and the Scholarship Program honors former senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. It was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

  • Supers want smooth transition

    During a special meeting last week, the Los Alamos School Board officially approved Kurt Steinhaus’s new contract, officially making him the next superintendent.
    According to the board, Steinhaus will officially assume the job May 4.
    Shortly after the vote, Gene Schmidt, the current Superintendent of Schools, and Steinhaus talked to the audience about how the transition will play out.
    “Dr. Steinhaus and I have a very strong working relationship that goes back over six years, so we anticipate a smooth and seamless transition,” Schmidt said at the school board meeting.
    Schmidt went on to say that he’s included Steinhaus in a variety of meetings already.
    “He knows he’s welcome to shadow any type of activity,” Schmidt said, adding that Steinhaus recently attended a Parent Advisory Council meeting, as well as having meetings with the staff and principals of the district’s seven schools.

  • Deep Trouble

    It wasn’t the most pleasant way to spend a Monday morning, but Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt (far right) stopped by Mountain Elementary to get updated on the school’s plumbing problem from Los Alamos Public School’s Chief Plumber Mike Herrera. Tree roots, according to Herrera, damaged and blocked the school’s plumbing. The problem was discovered over the weekend, and the school was closed all day Monday so county work crews could fix the problem. School was able to resume today.

  • Española students compete at White House

    A trio of students enrolled at the James H. Rodriguez Elementary School in Española are among the intrepid middle and high schoolers attended the White House Science Fair on Monday.
    Jose Valdez III, Casandra D. Dauz and Jaleena Rolon from Rodriguez Elementary School took part in the DiscoverE’s 2014-2015 Future City New Mexico Regional Competition with a display of their rural, desert community’s cultural diversity.
    Team members came from a variety of backgrounds including the Santa Clara Pueblo community, a church that accommodates the hearing disabled and parents that have recently emigrated from Mexico.
    The students said they recognized the importance of communicating the detail of their Future City design to the diverse, shared culture of New Mexico and incorporated four languages into their presentation: Spanish, English, American Sign Language and Tewa.
    The experience was a big opportunity for students, parents and teachers involved, with one team members saying, “Speaking Tewa made me happy about my own language and Indian culture.”
    The students also felt that competition gave them “a heads up on engineering” and they are now inspired to continue their involvement in teams such as Future City to one day become engineers.

  • Budget committee hammers out priorities

    After a few weeks of fact-finding into what the Los Alamos Public Schools spends its money on, the 2015 Education Budget Committee came up with a list of priorities the district should focus its funds on. The top three, in order, are:
    • Teacher compensation (23 votes)
    • Financial and educational support for the professional development of teachers (12 votes)
    • Mental health and well being of students (10 votes)
    The committee, which is made up of parents, teachers, business people, school administrators and executives from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, worked out the list of priorities during a meeting held at the Los Alamos High School Media Center.
    Committee member Bill Wadt, who also has a seat on the LANL Foundation’s board of directors, was glad to see mental health was a priority.
    “I think that shows the sensitivity of this community, that it realizes there is a mental health issue in this community and that we need to do more to address it,” he said, shortly after the vote was taken.
    Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn oversaw the process, and was also glad to see how the entire list of priorities turned out.

  • Education issues topic of meeting

    Los Alamos School Board vice president Matt Williams will host a discussion about the current issues facing Los Alamos Public Schools.
    Williams will present information on the recent LAPS budget committee meetings and the 20-Year Facilities Plan at the meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday. The meeting will take place at the Chamisa Elementary School gymnasium.

    Meeting time is 6 p.m.
    Williams said one of the topics of discussion at the meeting will be the rebuilding of one of the elementary schools, which the school board will have to commit to within the next five months. How the rebuild may affect other school sites will also be discussed.
    The public is invited to attend. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation.
    Those interested in expressing their opinions, including those who are not able to attend Tuesday’s meeting, may contact Williams directly at m.williams@laschools.net or the school board at laps.board@laschools.net.

  • UNM-LA gathers info on housing

    In an effort to solve its student housing shortage, the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos is going to go right to the source — the students themselves.
    At some point in the near future, UNM-LA administration officials will ask the student council to hold forums and conduct surveys to find out what students want as far as housing goes.
    “We need to drill down to what’s important for the student, what’s important for their experience and what’s important for us as an institution,” said one administrator at a recent UNM-LA Advisory Board meeting.
    UNM-LA once had student housing, but that building, an apartment complex located on 9th Street in the center of town has fallen into disrepair and is no longer occupied by students or utilized by UNM-LA in any way.
    UNM’s Board of Regents is currently preparing the building for sale.
    According to UNM-LA CEO Wynn Goering, the cost of maintaining the building became too much.
    “When the building on 9th Street was donated to UNM, there was not a branch in Los Alamos,” he said. “We have been utilizing it exclusively and the branch (UNM-LA) had been putting operating money into it. We concluded that the needs of the building were prohibitive. We couldn’t possibly make enough money to get it back.”

  • Dawn Brown gets board recognition

    The New Mexico School Boards Association recently awarded its Excellence for Student Achievement Award to several students as well as district employees for their work in either attaining excellence as a student or helping Los Alamos students attain that excellence.
    The nominees, as well as the winner, were presented with certificates at the most recent Los Alamos School Board meeting.
    Dawn Brown won the award for her work in organizing the school district’s science fair each year. She will be receiving a plaque at the next meeting.
    Other nominees included Los Alamos High School Student Estaban Abeyta, Los Alamos High School Principal Debbie Belew-Nyquist, Student Services Coordinator Karla Crane, Special Education Teacher Dana Kline, YMCA After School Director Andrea Lynch, Los Alamos High School Teacher Lynn Ovaska, Special Education Teacher Christine Peters, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board Youth Resource Advocate Troy Palmer, Los Alamos High School Teacher John Pawlak and Los Alamos Public Schools Technology Support Teacher Lorraine Whalen.