By Dr. LESLIE DENDY
Los Alamos residents will soon be voting on a 1 mil levy request for UNM-Los Alamos. I’ve been teaching at UNM-LA since 1980 (and before that at its precursor, UNM-Northern Branch College) and I know we need it!
As a parent whose kids went all the way through Los Alamos public schools, I know L.A. voters consider education vital, but there are some things you may not know about UNM-LA in particular. UNM-Albuquerque does NOT support us financially – it’s not even legally possible. We get most of our money from the state, which has been cutting back rather drastically for years. So we have cut back both staff and faculty positions. We have continued to develop innovative programs to help our community (EMS, Fire Science, Personal Care Attendant, CNA, etc.) but some of them are in danger of being reduced.
UNM-LA won’t be using mil levy funds for new buildings, but rather to keep the “engine” running.
Since many local students go off to bigger universities, some voters may not realize how well UNM-LA serves our community. Los Alamos High School students are coming to us in increasing numbers for state-required dual credit classes (299 students in 2015-2016). The state paid us only 6.4 percent of the calculated cost of those courses; we absorbed the rest. I’ve had many college students who could not afford a big school or whose ACT/SAT scores were not good enough, or who were just not ready to go to a big campus. Many adults, tied to Los Alamos by job and family, have moved ahead toward new careers with us. Three recent students of mine who already had physics PhDs are now happier in medical or vet school after changing directions with us.
Our Adult Basic Education Department helps hundreds of students every year. Some who dropped out of high school get a GED, while foreign residents of L.A. can learn English. Our Community Education Department provides low-cost non-academic classes for anybody. Thousands of local children have enjoyed our summer programs. And I know several UNM-LA teachers who have helped local kids with science fair projects.
Please help us continue to help your family, friends, and neighbors!