Los Alamos School Board Mulls Building New School

LAPS Chief Operations Officer Joan Ahlers and Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus speak on bond issues and the possible construction of a new school. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/ladailypost.com
 
By BONNIE J. GORDON
Los Alamos Daily Post

The Los Alamos School Board is gearing up for the approaching bond elections, one in 2016 to fund maintenance, technology and small projects and a second election in 2017 to fund construction of a new school. Neither bond election will raise taxes, as older bonds are being retired.

“These bonds are critical to the school district,” Board Chair Jim Hall said.

The Los Alamos District was passed over in the first round of state matching fund construction grants, but money may be available in the future. This was the case with Aspen School which was begun before matching funds were available.

The decision on which new school to build will be made at the Nov. 10 School Board Meeting.

“We want the public to be deeply involved in deciding which school to build,” Hall said.

Since Barranca and Pinon School are similar in design, the district has the option of using one design for either school and saving in design costs down the road, LAPS Chief Operations Officer Joan Ahlers said. The three schools under consideration are Barranca, Chamisa and Pinon. There is the option to combine Chamisa and Pinon into one school or to leave them separate. Two rounds of public meetings (four in all) will take place in September and October, Ahlers said. The Board voted unanimously to proceed with the process as outlined so far.

Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn gives a report on out-of-district enrollment. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/ladailypost.com

Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn reported on out-of-district enrollment. There are 3,508 students from within the district and 76 out of the district currently enrolled, Washburn said. This year, 179 out-of-district students have applied. If all are accepted and attend, out-of- district enrollment will rise to 18 percent of the total, up from 14.5 percent this year. Fifty-five kindergarten students have applied. If all were accepted, this would be one quarter of the kindergarten class (100 in-district students have registered).

Ethnic diversity is raised from 21.46 to 24 percent with the inclusion of out-of-district students. Fifty-three percent of parents of the out-of-district students work for Los Alamos County employers.

 “In district enrollment continues to decline,” he Washburn said. Excluding out-of-district students would mean a reduction in class room teachers at all levels, he said. Special education would be especially hard hit, losing 11 faculty members.

The out of district policy will not change for 2015-16, Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus said. Public meetings will be included in the decision-making process, Hall said.

In his report to the Board, Steinhaus announced that the Public Education Dept. has accepted the Distrtict’s budget.

In other business, the Board unanimously approved a lease to Family Strengths Network of the property formerly occupied by PEEC. FSN is currently housed in another space rented from the District. That space will be taken over by the robotics program, which is a school-sponsored activity and doesn’t require a lease.

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