• Budget committee has good forecast

    Some interesting economic facts about Los Alamos County were revealed at a recent budget session by the Los Alamos School Board.
    The findings are related to the board’s the 2014-15 Budget Committee’s fact finding into its preparation for district’s next school budget.
    At the budget committee’s opening session a few weeks ago, committee members made a public invitation for leaders from the county’s various economic sectors, which included Los Alamos National Laboratory, the real estate market, the county and other areas, to come to this week’s meeting to give presentations and insights into the community’s economic well being.
    It is hoped the series of presentations will help the committee down the road in its plan to reorganize budget priorities amid predictions that state funding for the budget is generally going to be the same amount the Los Alamos Public Schools received last year.
    This year, LAPS predicting the school system will receive about $34 million, which includes the $8 million in annual funding the district receives from the U.S. Department of Energy.

  • Special Ed. staff gets recognition

    The New Mexico Public Education Department sent a letter of congratulations to Los Alamos High School’s Special Education Department this week.
    The NMPED congratulated LAHS’ department on achieving 100 percent compliance with paperwork and protocols for students transitioning from high school to college and/or the work world.
    In order to be compliant, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for students with disabilities are expected to address the following three conditions.
    Transition planning is focused on preparing high school students to access appropriate post secondary training, employment opportunities and independent living supports.
    Federal regulations require local school districts to participate in annual reviews of IEP files.
    LAPS officials said they were proud of the recognition the department received, saying this year’s recognition of the district’s 100 percent compliance “continues the pattern of excellence established by LAHS special education staff over the last several years,” according to a press release announcing the letter.
    Karla Crane, coordinator of student services at LAPS, complimented the work of the high school special education team for their service in the education of students with disabilities.

  • Students, teachers show up for protest of PARCC tests

    When people think of a protester, they usually picture someone who’s noisy, rowdy and sometimes violent, with plenty of sign waving and personal confrontation.
    However, some Los Alamos High School students had a different idea when they decided to protest a new type of assessment test they will be taking next week.
    Called the “Partnership For Assessment Of Readiness For College And Careers” exam, (PARCC) the test replaces the Standards Based Assessment (SBA) test, the test the high school students have been taking since elementary school.
    About 70 students assembled peaceably in the school’s lobby around 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
    A pair of them, Evan Oro and Katy Stockton handed out a 3-page argument what’s wrong with the test, as well as a tip sheet for teachers on how they too could protest the test by skewing the results to “demonstrate (the New Mexico Public Education Department’s) arbitrary use of numbers and how the system can be totally manipulated.”
    Then, all of the students, as well as a few teachers staged a “sit-in” as school district officials, including LAHS Principal Debbie Belew-Nyquist and Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt engaged the students in conversation about their feelings about PARCC.

  • Students protesting LAHS testing

    About 50 students at Los Alamos High School were involved in a sit-in protest at Los Alamos High School this afternoon.

    The students were protesting the PARCC testing that will be starting at LAHS next week.

    It was held after school today. Student organizers passed out a letter explaning their position on the testing.

    Several Los Alamos Public School officials were on-hand, including Superintendent Gene Schmidt and LAHS principal Debbie Belew-Nyquist.

    All the protesting at the school was peaceful and civil.

  • LAPS pay raises may not happen

    It now seems unlikely certain employees that work for the Los Alamos Public Schools will be getting that 1.5 percent pay raise after all, at least not this school year.
    In February, the Los Alamos School Board approved a 1.5-percent increase for all school employees that weren’t teachers.
    The raise was to be retroactive to the beginning of the school year.
    The district would have spent $60,696 this year, relying on salary savings. Next year, the district planned to spend $121,000 in raises and would have paid for it through the money the district saved through upcoming retirements.
    Assistant Superintendent of Schools Gerry Washburn made the announcement at a recent board meeting.
    While the school board approved the raise, it was up to the New Mexico Public Education Department to approve the raises in accordance to state law.
    However, according to Washburn, the idea was shot down by the New Mexico Attorney General’s office over the retroactive aspect of the increase.
    “They consider it a gift of public funds, so we can’t do that,” Washburn said at the meeting.
    A statement from the State Attorney General’s office to the administration further clarified the reasoning.

  • UNM-LA board votes to raise fees

    The advisory board of the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos campus unanimously voted Monday to raise tuition by 6.31 percent.
    The proposal will be sent to the UNM Board of Regents for final approval.
    If approved by the regents, the increase translates into an extra $4.75 per credit hour for classes for New Mexico residents. Now, residents will be paying $74 per credit hour to take classes at the school.
    Non-residents will be paying $205 per credit hour at UNM-LA, which translates into a net increase of $6 per credit hour.
    Before the vote, UNM-LA’s CEO Wynn Goering told the board why the hike is necessary. Factoring into the hike are the amount of educational funding the state legislature is expected to distribute to higher education this year, enrollment levels and property taxes.
    “For better or worse, Los Alamos County this past year was one of the few counties in the state whose valuation went down…what that means to the (UNM-LA) branch is that’s a decrease in the amount of revenue we have available,” Goering said to the board.
    Other driving factors included the recent dramatic tuition hikes of other regional community colleges, such as Northern New Mexico College.

  • Swearing-In Ceremony

    Former University of New Mexico-Los Alamos Advisory Board member Linda Hull is presented with a thank you gift in the form of flowers and a card by UNM-LA Advisory Board Chairman Stephen Boerighter during a ceremony Monday.

  • Juniors release prom details

    Los Alamos High School prom organizers have released information about the upcoming event.
    The Class of 2016 is presenting “Prom 2015 — Moonlight Sonata.” The event will be at the Buffalo Thunder Resort near Pojoaque.
    Organizers said the final plans are currently underway for the prom, which will be April 25.
    The evening will begin with a welcome reception at the Buffalo Thunder starting at 6:30 p.m. That will be followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m.
    The dance will go through midnight.
    Junior class representatives said they were “thrilled” to have a chance to make this a memorable event, in a statement.
    “We as students think it is important that we recognize all the hard work and dedication we put into our time at LAHS,” the statement read in part. “Having a fantastic Prom is our way of recognizing each other.”
    Here are the plans and information for the event:

  • LAPS hosts second forum with Steinhaus

    Wednesday night was Kurt Steinhaus’ night to win the people over.
    He didn’t disappoint.
    A virtually exact number of people showed up to see if Steinhaus had what it takes to be the district’s next superintendent as it did for Chris Marczak’s presentation Monday.
    And like Marczak, he came prepared. Every one of the audience members that attended received a four-page handout from the superintendent candidate. One espoused his education and leadership philosophies, another his future goals for district, another paper listed the values that guided him as an educator and the last one talked about what values he wanted the district to reflect.
    He started off his presentation talking about his deep professional and personal ties to Los Alamos, ties that included his first job as a kid running a neighborhood lawn mowing service to his student teaching career, getting married (he and his wife Jo Beth had their reception at Fuller Lodge), to his becoming director of Community Programs at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    After his presentation, the audience wasted no time with asking him the tough questions about funding for education and teacher evaluation.

  • Letter warns students about walkout protests of testing

    Around the state, there have been reports of walkouts at several public schools in protest of the state’s evaluation testing.
    As of Wednesday morning, there hadn’t been any at Los Alamos Public Schools. And Superintendent Gene Schmidt wants to keep it that way.
    LAPS released a letter to the press Tuesday afternoon warning students about the possible consequences of walking out on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing, which many teachers, students and parents have complained about on social media.
    Schmidt said in his letter LAPS was “aware of campaigns on social media” encouraging local students to walk out on testing. While his letter stated that the rights of students are respected, that anyone refusing to participate might “jeopardize their ability to obtain a high school diploma.”
    According to LAPS, the PARCC serves the purpose of a high school competency exam, which all students are required by law to pass in order to receive a diploma.
    Further, LAPS stated anyone taking part in a walkout protest would be considered unexcused and may be subjected to the district’s discipline system.