By ANDREA CUNNINGHAM, Candidate
Los Alamos School Board Dist. 4
Hello, my name is Andrea Cunningham. My husband and I moved to Los Alamos 22 years ago from the University of Michigan and have raised our three daughters, now 21, 19 and 16 here. I was a stay at home mom for several years and became active in volunteering, both in the schools and community.
I am a nurse and have worked in a variety of positions, including at LANL. I now manage the Los Alamos Public Health office. While volunteering, I became a voice for young families in the political process and successfully led many projects, campaigns and organizations. It has been, and remains my goal, to support families in the community through service. A great school system is integral in attracting the professionals which contribute to the success of the laboratory, and thus the success of the community.
I am a graduate of Leadership Los Alamos, have been president of the Barranca Elementary PTO, and been a member of various LAPS committees including Parent/district Council, Bond Committees, Teacher of the Year committees, Principal and Teacher hiring committees and the Barranca Advisory Team. I have also been the director of Fusion Volleyball and a member of the LAPS Foundation. As a member of the Trinity Site Redevelopment committee, I participated in the development of the Smiths Marketplace. This project was integral in developing lease revenues for the Schools and starting the kinds of County/School partnerships that are critical to providing alternative funding sources.
Our schools are the cornerstone of our community and though we are already the best school district in the state, we owe it to our children to continue to improve. In light of budget shortfalls, decreasing enrollment and issues with changing State regulations, it will be a challenge. We must find funding to preserve those positive factors which distinguish us, such as small class size, the arts and music programs, diverse extracurricular activities and athletics programs. Our children deserve a quality classroom educational experience; one that doesn’t just ensure they test to the next level, but enriches their lives. That teaches them the ultimate lesson- to love learning.
Our teachers are our greatest resource and are a primary reason for our past and continuing success, and they need our support. It is the teachers who inspire our children and help mold them into the adults they will become. The Board’s support is important to recruit and retain high quality staff.
To me, the role of a school board member is twofold; the first reflects a global perspective with oversight of budget, how we deal with compliance with State and Federal requirements and general policy. The second is more community specific, understanding policy issues, taking into account the needs of our students in how we implement mandates, and how to best cope with budget shortfalls in a way that will have the least impact on our students.
The need for a comprehensive strategic plan falls under both of these roles. We must be proactive instead of reactive. It is critical not just to set goals in response to projections, but have a well-defined plan which includes a roadmap on how to get there. The Strategic Plan needs to be a living document with benchmarks for interim steps towards the goals, timelines for completion of the steps and the flexibility to make changes along the way.
We must continue to be creative in our search for funding and educate the community about how school funding works. We are blessed with many of the best minds in the country and need to draw on the talents of the community to help brainstorm ideas for alternative sources of revenue. County/School partnerships and the LAPS Foundation have started to make a dent but we need to think out of the box to really reach our goals.
If elected, I will work to ensure a continued quality education for our children, an open communication and engagement with the community and support for our fine teaching staff. Please vote for me in District 4 (Barranca Elementary/North Mesa). Early voting has started or you can vote on Feb. 3 at the Municipal Building.
I would like to end with a quote: “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” –William Butler Yeats.
Let LAPS continue to stoke the fire of education and burn brightly!