School Board Votes to Make Gene Schmidt Interim Superintendent of Los Alamos Public Schools

From left, Superintendent Gene Schmidt, School Board President Judy Bjarke-McKenzie, Board Vice-president Kevin Honnell, Board Secretary Matt Williams, Board Member David Foster and Board Member Jim Hall. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Los Alamos Daily Post

The saga of the Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent reached its conclusion at the March 27 Special Meeting of the School Board at Mountain Elementary School.

After 40 minutes in Executive Session, some of it in consultation with Superintendent Gene Schmidt, the Board returned and immediately voted unanimously on a motion made by Board Vice President Kevin Honnell to appoint Schmidt as interim superintendent for the period June 30, 2014 to June 30, 2015. The search for a new superintendent will take place during that 12-month period.

Schmidt resigned earlier this month after it became evident that he did not have the full support of the board to renew his current contract. Speculation has flown concerning what went on in closed door Executive Sessions held over several weeks to discuss Schmidt’s performance. It emerged that the Board was split 3-2 on Schmidt’s retention, with Board members David Foster and Jim Hall favoring extending his contract and Honnell, Judy Bjarke-McKenzie and Matt Williams opposed.

Board members expressed relief Thursday evening that this issue is behind them. Bjarke-McKenzie said the arrangement will allow a smooth transition without the need to appoint a new person as interim superintendent.

Hall commended the Board leadership for helping the members reach a solution so beneficial to all concerned.

“I’m glad for the way it turned out and I want to compliment the board president and vice president for this,” he said. 

This interim year will allow Schmidt to see projects he and the Board began to fruition, including the Early College Academy, which moves students who might otherwise not be college bound onto a career path, as well as finishing reports to the Public Education Department on the state’s teacher evaluation system and end or course exams that have generated controversy this year, he said.

“This gives me the opportunity to assist the District in what comes next,” Schmidt said. “It’s important for the community to know that I’m in charge and will continue to serve the District in achieving educational excellence. The Board and I look forward to a very productive year. We will continue to focus on raising student achievement. The Board and I thank the community for their input. It’s good when the community helps to shape the future of education. Now let’s get back to educating kids.”

Editor’s note: Carol A. Clark contributed to this story.

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