Highlights From Nov. 12 School Board Meeting

Staff members from Los Alamos High School pose with the plaque and certificate that will be displayed at the high school announcing the Los Alamos School District’s acheivement of the highest level of accreditation by AdvancED. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/ladailypost.com
Los Alamos High School Student Body President Soumyo Lahiri-Gupta, right, and Vice President Justin Dunn, second from right, and a contingent of LAHS students presented a proposal to change the dress code at LAHS. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/ladailypost.com

Los Alamos Daily Post

A number of issues were addressed at Tuesday’s School Board Meeting in the Speech Theater at Los Alamos High School.

“AdvancED,” an accreditation service that grants district-wide accreditation status to school districts worldwide, awarded the Los Alamos Public School District the highest level of accreditation earlier this year. Two teams visited all of the schools in the district about a year and a half ago and conducted an intensive evaluation.

“The highest rating is a rare honor,” Superintendent Gene Schmidt said. “This means we rank with the finest schools in the world.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, each school in the district was presented a plaque for display announcing this achievement.

Los Alamos High School Student Body President Soumyo Lahiri-Gupta, Vice President Justin Dunn and a contingent of LAHS students presented a proposal to change the dress code at LAHS. The Student Council polled the student body about what changes they would like to see implemented and presented a proposed dress code to the School Board along with 310 signatures from LAHS students supporting the proposal.

“The current dress code is not up to date,” Dunn said. “Another problem is that it is not fairly enforced. Males are almost never called on dress code violations. It’s always females.”

The board will study the proposed new dress code and address it at the December meeting, Board President Jim Hall said.

Schmidt reported on the progress of the Committee for Teacher Concerns that has been meeting to address concerns about demands on teacher’s time not directly related to instruction, the state mandated Teacher Evaluation System and other state-mandated programs and other teacher concerns.

Schmidt identified a number of ideas the District can implement such as making certain software planning programs optional for teachers, curtailing or changing the format of meetings, reducing the number of committees or the work done by them, eliminating optional tests and strategies to maximize teacher planning time.

“The committee was extremely positive for those of us on it,” LAHS economics teacher Brian Easton said. “It’s essential that it continue … let’s learn from this and continue the momentum.”

Schmidt also presented the first draft of a letter to New Mexico Secretary of Education Designate Hanna Skandera outlining changes and exceptions to the Teacher Evaluation System that Los Alamos would like to implement. A second draft of the letter will be presented to the Board at a special meeting Nov. 21.

In a 3-2 vote, the Board passed a resolution proposed by Board Member Kevin Honnell stating that the written proposal to the Public Education Department be contingent upon a simple majority of the LAPS certified staff (teachers and principals) expressing support for the proposal.

Board President Jim Hall and Board Member David Foster voted against the resolution. Teachers will be polled prior to the Thanksgiving break.

Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn presented a Memorandum of Understanding with Highlands University for that institution to conduct a master’s degree program for District teachers that has been developed over the past year. The memorandum was approved in a unanimous vote.