School Board Seeks Candidates For Vacant Seat

Los Alamos School Board from left, President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie, Jim Hall, Secretary Matt Williams, Vice President Kevin Honnell and David Foster who recently resigned. Courtesy/LAPS

LAPS News:

The August meeting of the Los Alamos School Board was Tuesday at the Administration Building Conference Room.

The meeting opened with a short recognition ceremony for David Foster who is leaving the School Board. Foster represented District 3. He is moving from Los Alamos. School Board President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie thanked Foster for his service to the District. An appreciation plaque for his service was presented at the meeting.

Bjarke-McKenzie then called for interested residents who are registered voters from School Board District 3 to submit a letter of interest, a declaration of candidacy, a one page resume, and a 300-500 word narrative that includes his/her intent and philosophy of education. Interested community members can view School Board District 3’s boundaries by clicking here.

School Board President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie announced that she will convene a Special School Board meeting Sept. 11 at the LAPS Administration Building Board Room to interview candidates to fill the District 3 seat on the Board. The meeting will be open to the public.

The business portion of Tuesday’s agenda began with an Aspen Elementary School construction update. David Wharram, who oversees the project for the District, informed the School Board that the Aspen Elementary parent parking lot and bus loading zone are paved and ready for the first day of school. Parents and students will walk along the north parking lot to get around the school construction to their classroom portables. The project is on schedule  and plans are being developed to move students from portables to the new school later this year, Wharram said.  

Bjarke-McKenzie led a discussion about the process to begin the search for a new Superintendent. Board Vice-president Kevin Honnell and School Board Member Jim Hall were asked to prepare a proposed timeline and proposed process for the search. Bjarke-McKenzie and Board Member Matt Williams will develop a proposed job description and qualifications. The community will be involved through community nights that will give the community an opportunity to participate in the search process, Bjarke-McKenzie said.

Chief Operations Officer Joan Ahlers was directed by the School Board to present a plan to surplus the Aspen Elementary School furniture. This plan will be presented at an upcoming School Board meeting. Ahlers was also asked to present a plan to relocate the classroom portables that currently house students on the Aspen Elementary campus.

Curriculum Director Pam Miller updated the Board on the wide variety of professional development opportunities that were available to staff to help them prepare for the start of the school year, including training on Common Core and success strategies for Language Arts.

Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn presented an enrollment update. If all students on the enrollment list actually enroll, the district will open with 3,601 students, which is slightly higher than last year’s opening day enrollment of 3,485.

Washburn also presented the School Board with draft policy language for dealing with issues of vandalism on school property. If approved by the School Board, the District would seek redress in the amount of the damage from any individual or the parents or guardian of any minor who commits an act of vandalism.  For the purpose of this policy, vandalism includes negligent, willful, or unlawful damaging district property. The School Board will continue to review possible language to the vandalism policy up the September meeting.

Superintendent Gene Schmidt discussed the naming of the District’s Certificated and Classified Team. The School Board advised Schmidt to bring a list of possible District negotiation team members for consideration at the September meeting.

School Board action concluded with a confirmation of Aug. 21 as the date of the August Work Session. Work Session agenda topics include a 5-Year Facility report by Architectural Research Consultants and a meeting with the District’s 20-Year Facility Committee.