LAPS Board: Why I am Running For Re-election

By JIM HALL
School Board President

This is NOT the Bond Election – It is an In-Person Election: PLEASE VOTE

I am running for re-election to the Los Alamos Public Schools Board of Education because I believe I am the best qualified candidate. This is the first of three columns: the past, the present, and the future of our schools.

First, a few basic facts about LAPS and the Board. LAPS is a large, complex organization with approximately 700 employees, a total 2017 operational budget of more than $35 million, reserves of approximately $17 million (both capital and operational), and more than 1 million-square-feet of space on about 125 acres of land. Besides teachers and principals, the district employs people in more than 30 occupational specialties.

I have the management, board and educational experience to apply these resources for the maximum advantage of our children and community.

By state law the Board has three prime responsibilities: hire and manage the superintendent, set policy, and create and oversee a budget. 

This column discusses major accomplishments of the current Board, always while working with the administration, in the past four years. Four key initiatives deserve recognition.

The first initiative has been to improve LAPS for students and parents. The Board began this effort with a strategic plan for our schools that put student well-being, student learning, and staff well-being and excellence as the top three goals (see http://laschools.net/cms/lib07/NM01000458/Centricity/Domain/1179/LAPS_Strategic_Plan-FINAL-Pages.pdf for the plan.) In spite of difficult fiscal constraints, the Board has increased funding in all three areas and directed the superintendent to regularly report on progress in each area.For example, to increase student well-being, the Board supported the work of the Mental Health Design Team and added funding and staffing to oversee and coordinate health programs and improve both the mental and physical health services for our students. In my next column, I will report on current progress.

The second major initiative of the Board—closely related to the first — has been to (1) broaden our program offerings for students and (2) assist our teaching staff in refining their skills and encouraging their professional growth. Again, in the next column, I will expand on current LAPS improvements in these areas. 

The third initiative has been personnel and financial management. The Board hired a new superintendent, Dr. Kurt Steinhaus, who is already recognized as one of the premier superintendents in the state. The Board has worked closely with Dr. Steinhaus to improve school technology resources, train staff in state-mandated common core curriculum, improve financial management, and maintain programmatic excellence, while reducing central office staff and increasing classroom resources. As a result, (1) our students have the curriculum background and IT resources to do well on the state-mandated, Internet-based PARCC tests (although the Board has consistently expressed deep concerns about both the tests and testing process), (2) parents have improved access to student data and staff, and (3) LAPS just received the best financial audit in the district’s history and consistently meets ever increasing state and federal reporting requirements. 

Finally, the Board has focused both on maintaining older buildings and remodeling and rebuilding key physical facilities. During the last four years LAPS (1) has successfully completed the rebuild and remodel of Los Alamos Middle School, Aspen Elementary, Los Aamos High School Music Wing, and the Freshman Academy, (2) upgraded its IT infrastructure, and (3) maintained older schools as well as school-owned rental properties that contribute more than $1 million/year to LAPS educational programs. 

Board members and LAPS staff have also worked with Los Alamos County (LAC) staff and Councilors to support LAPS. LAC contributed major capital funds to upgrade one of our leased properties and assist in the modernization of Smith Auditorium. LAC also provides use of some County facilities and pays for specialized safety staff and some special programs for at-risk students. LAC Councilors and staff deserve a big THANK YOU from our school staff and students.

I ask for your vote Feb. 7. Visit my website at www.jimhallforschoolboard.com. Find out more information about voting at the County Clerk’s website at http://www.losalamosnm.us/clerk/Pages/default.aspx.

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