Highlights: Los Alamos School Board Meeting July 13

Pinon Elementary School in White Rock. Courtesy/LAPS

Chamisa Elementary School in White Rock. Courtesy/LAPS

LAPS News:

The Los Alamos School Board met Tuesday, July 13 on Zoom and in the School Board Room. President Melanie Colgan opened the meeting by recognizing the COVID vaccination team of Los Alamos County Emergency Manager Beverley Simpson and Nambe Drugs owners Tom and Francis Lovett, as well as Medical Associates of Northern New Mexico and Smith’s Pharmacy. They held 29 vaccination clinics, of which 23 were hosted on school property. Los Alamos has an 89 percent vaccination rate. 

President Colgan also recognized 2021 Los Alamos High School graduate Audrey Nolen who is the recipient of a $1,000 New Mexico School Boards Association Scholarship.

Interim Superintendent Jennifer Guy then updated the board on the Public Schools Capital Outlay Council (PSCOC) award for the construction design for Chamisa and Piñon Elementary schools. 

LAPS will fund 80 percent of the projects with a state match of 20 percent.

“Thank you to Dr. Kurt Steinhaus and Herb McLean who laid the groundwork before they retired, and Tommy Castillo and Stephen Leos for their continued support and knowledge in moving us forward,” Guy said.

This was followed by a presentation of the Educational Specifications for Chamisa and Pinon Elementary Schools. John Spitz and Ailene O’Bryne of Architectural Research Consultants, Inc. (ARC) provided current facts about both school sites, birth rates, enrollment projections and community trends. They also referenced the district’s mission and vision, and the facilities master plan. 

Four designs were presented for consideration including keeping both schools as is, combining the two schools into one school, having one school for PreK through 3rd grade and the other for 4th through 6th grades, or having two equal schools of the same size, which is the recommendation of the Steering Committee. The School Board voted in favor of designing two schools of equal size. 

The board then approved the New Mexico State Highway Department road grant resolution, which provides funding for parking lot improvements at Barranca and Mountain elementary schools. The grant will cover all but 25 percent of the total costs for the projects.

Los Alamos County Public Works Director Anne Laurent presented an update on the North Mesa gym project, which is a joint effort between the County and LAPS. The proposed gym would not only provide additional space for middle school students for classes and after school activities, but also for community use. The main priority of this project is to increase court size to accommodate future growth, according to Laurent.

“The timing of this is optimal, which is why this is being brought before both the School Board and County Council,” Laurent said.

School board members next approved the addition of the Juneteenth holiday to the 2021-2022 district calendar. The holiday will be celebrated on June 19 or the day after if it falls on a weekend or holiday. It will be an additional paid holiday for 260-day LAPS employees.

The School Board also approved Policy 4034.1, which addresses employee speech. The policy language had been reviewed by attorneys for both LAPS and the teacher’s union.

The final topic of discussion focused on the process for selection and appointment of a new school board member. The School Board participated in a training and retreat session this evening. And prior to the start of the training, the board appointed candidate Erin Green as the representative from District 5 to complete the term left vacant with the resignation of Dawn Jalbert.

The next School Board meeting is 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10 in the School Board Room.