• Search continues for new super

    The Los Alamos School Board recently met with members of its superintendent search team, hoping to narrow down its list of 14 candidates even further.
    According to School Board Secretary Matt Williams, the board succeeded in narrowing the list down some more, though he could not say by how much or give any other details about their Feb. 12 meeting.
    “I would just say we had our list of quarterfinalists, and we have whittled the list down to semifinalists,” Williams said.
    The meeting was led in part by Ryan Ray, the executive director of Ray & Associates, the school executive recruitment firm hired by the board to help it in its search.
    All persons involved in the search have signed a confidentiality agreement so as not to reveal the identities, or ways to identify, candidates that have applied for the search.
    “They all have very good jobs already,” said Ray in response to a question from the press about why it was important to conceal the identity of the candidates applying.
    At the beginning of the meeting, Ray distributed a document detailing the firm’s findings in its efforts to help the school board narrow down its list of candidates.
    In all, 334 candidates applied for the job.
    Only 62 made it to Ray’s initial list of candidates for the position.

  • Board passes pay increases

    At its Tuesday meeting, the Los Alamos School Board passed a pay increase for all “classified” employees in the Los Alamos Public Schools. Classified employees are generally the employees in the system that are not licensed to teach or have backgrounds in teaching.
    Assistant Superintendent and Human Resources Director Gerry Washburn recommended to the board that it approve a 1.5 percent pay increase for the employees “across the board.” He said he and his staff arrived at this conclusion through careful research and input from various groups interested in improving compensation for classified employees.
    The next step will be to get the board-approved raises approved by the state, through the New Mexico Department of Education.
    For the past year, the administration has been grappling with the fact that the district’s classified employees have not seen a significant raise or cost of living adjustment in at least 15 years. The 1.5 percent increase is seen as a temporary fix until a study of the issue — which was also initiated this year — is completed.

  • Prom to be at Buffalo Thunder

    Los Alamos Public Schools announced today that the 2015 Junior-Senior Prom will be held at the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino near Pojoaque.

    A pair of informative sessions will be held to answer questions parents and students may have. They are scheduled for Feb. 17 and Feb. 19. The Feb. 17 meeting will be held at the Buffalo Thunder hotel lobby starting at 6:30 p.m. and the Feb. 19 meeting at the high school speech theater starting at 6 p.m.

  • Officials defend principal’s actions

    The first thing Olivia Lujan, an AP Physics teacher at Los Alamos High School and Student Council Adviser Joanne Ploeger want the community to know is that they hope the organizers of this year’s prom are successful in their endeavor.
    However, there are some things they claim the local media didn’t get right about an earlier story regarding a “confrontation” that took place between two Los Alamos School Board members, Lujan, High School Principal Debbie Belew-Nyquist and High School Athletics Director Ann Stewart Jan. 12.
    In a story about the incident, the Los Alamos Monitor described the event as one where school board members Nan Holmes and Judy Bjarke-McKenzie were escorted off the campus because Belew-Nyquist didn’t want them there.
    Recently, Ploeger and Lujan sat down with the Los Alamos Monitor to tell their side of the story, and what they said happened that day.
    “What we really want to see is facts,” said Ploeger. “What we’ve read, up to this time, has been about emotions, and people’s perceptions, not actual facts.”

  • Plans for Buffalo Thunder prom are still on track

    Prom organizers were greeted with cheers and applause from the Los Alamos High School’s senior class Wednesday as the high school’s junior class, the class that’s sponsoring the prom, filled them in on their plans to host their plans at Buffalo Thunder Resort.
    The ticket prices will be $50, which includes a three-course meal and the dance. The minimum financial commitment is $6,000, which equals a minimum of 120 participants.
    According to Lisa Montoya, chief financial officer for Los Alamos Public Schools, Buffalo Thunder has committed to a maximum of 500 prom attendees. Historically, average prom attendance has been between 320 to 370 persons, according to administration officials.
    Prom organizers have until March 1 to meet the minimum financial requirement to reserve the venue. According to the school administration, the students have been busy raising the funds needed to make their plan work.
    Reports are the school’s annual ’Topper Revue has been very successful.
    For those interested in attending, performances are 7 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Monday.
    Also, Buffalo Thunder Resort Event Organizer Peter Lovato has offered prom organizers the use of its shuttles to and from the prom.

  • Foundation accepting proposals

    The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is planning to award grants for innovative ideas that augment the basic curriculum from licensed teachers in the district.
    Parents can team with licensed teachers to apply for grants. The Spring Great Ideas Grant applications are due Feb. 17. Applications must be received by 4 p.m.
    Grants will be awarded in May. Grant winners must implement their proposed projects by December 2015. 
    For additional information, to view past winners, or download the grant in PDF or Word form, visit the Foundation’s website at lapsfoundation.com under the “Teacher Grant” icon.
    Additionally, proposals are being accepted for Professional Developments Grants.
    The 2015 Professional Development Grant window is open and proposals are due by the Feb. 17 deadline.
    The intent of the LAPSF grant is to fund professional development opportunities for the summer or fall of 2015. Professional development grants are for teachers to attend training or to provide training to others within the local public district.
    Grant Proposals that will be considered include the following:
    • Educators who will attend training with the goal of bringing newfound knowledge in a content area back to their school, department and students.

  • At Attention

    Cadets from the Los Alamos High School NJROTC present the colors at a recent student of the term breakfast at Los Alamos Middle School.

  • DOE announces renewal of funds for Innovation hub

    The U.S. Department of Energy announced today it would renew funding, subject to congressional appropriations, for the Consortium for the Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL), an Energy Innovation Hub established in 2010 to develop advanced computing capabilities that serve as a virtual version of existing, operating nuclear reactors.
    The move, according to the DOE, “would help enable the role that nuclear energy has in providing dependable and affordable energy to America while advancing innovative research in an energy source central to achieving the president’s goals for a low-carbon energy future.”
    Under the funding plan, the Hub would receive up to $121.5 million over five years, subject to congressional appropriations.
    Over the next five years, CASL researchers would be directed to focus on extending the modeling and simulation tools built during its first phase to include additional nuclear reactor designs, including small modular reactors.

  • Science fair winners announced

    The results of last weekend’s Los Alamos County Science Fair were announced by the Los Alamos Public Schools Friday.
    Among the top winners at the ceremony was Elise Anne Koskello, a junior at Los Alamos High School, who won in the senior division physical sciences.
    There were winners in both physical and life science categories in the upper and lower grades.
    Also in the senior division, Priyanka Velappan, a LAHS freshman, won in the life science division.
    The two junior division winners were Lillian Petersen for physical science and Rockwell Leikness for life science.
    Petersen is a seventh grader at Los Alamos Middle School and Leikness is a sixth grader attending Aspen Elementary School.

  • Students unveil prom plans

    It’s an ambitious plan for a prom, but Los Alamos High School students Deanna Gutierrez and Jordan Henson seem to have plenty of inside and outside support for their plan.
    Their plan was presented at Thursday’s work session of the Los Alamos School Board where Gutierrez, the junior class president, and Henson, the vice president, went detail by detail through their presentation of two prom proposals.
    One proposal centered on having the prom at the Los Alamos County Golf Course. The other was centered on going “off the hill” to Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino.
    When they were done with the comparison part of the presentation, the two students announced that the class preferred Buffalo Thunder.
    Even though there was a $14 price difference in the tickets, Henson said the students preferred Buffalo Thunder because they felt they would be getting more bang for their buck for their $50 ticket.
    Prom at Buffalo Thunder would include a three-course dinner in a ballroom setting with clean up and set up included. She also said that the junior class, which has been fundraising since they were freshmen, will be paying for the DJ, the court supplies and the tickets.