An update from Susan O’Leary…
Hi Everyone, lots going on with Los Alamos education. Here’s an update:
1. IMPORTANT! LAPS is hosting a reception this Wednesday, 9/11, 4-4:45pm at the high school with special guest New Mexico Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera. This is a GREAT opportunity to let the Secretary know your concerns about funding for Los Alamos schools. The reception is open to the public. We think Secretary Skandera is the key person who could change the way the NM Public Education Department interprets the rules so that counties would be allowed to supplement the state provided education funding for operations.
2. Several parents met with Dr. Schmidt and Gerry Washburn last week to discuss the class size issue at Mountain. The administration said there’s nothing they can do this year about the second grade situation; if the numbers at Mountain hold next year, they’ll add back the teacher for Mountain kids in their third grade year. I think they’re willing to do this because they think they can go down a kindergarten teacher next year. They aren’t planning on adding back a teacher at Aspen or Barranca because they say the numbers do not support it. The administration is planning on announcing all this in the very near future (if they haven’t already).
3. LAPS administration said they will release to the public a 5 year forecast that shows the implications of expected funding on the delivery of school services. This forecast will be based on a lot of assumptions but it’s the best indicator we’ll have to understanding the funding situation and how it will impact our children’s school experience. John Wolfe, LAPS CFO said it would be ready sometime this week.
4. Assuming the financial situation is as serious as we’ve been told, we plan to start up a community organization that seeks to educate the community about the issues and develop an action plan to resolve them. We want to get reliable information out about the situation so the community can evaluate it constructively and in a fact-based manner. This group will want to work with LAPS and the County to achieve optimal results for the community. We are calling this group Save Our Schools Los Alamos and are building a website to post information athttp://www.soslosalamos.com/. The website should be up within a week. Let me know if you have time to help with this. We need help in generating good analysis and research on relevant topics. More to come on this.
3. Tim and I were invited to meet with County officials and Council Chair Rodgers and Council Vice Chair Israelevitz last week after our editorial published asking the County to help with the funding crisis. They’re open to considering ways that the County can help. They encouraged us to find other Counties in New Mexico to work with if we decide to try to change State legislation or policy. The County is also interested in learning whether LAPS can raise more funds through the lease program. They appreciate the importance of the issue to the community while also being concerned about doing anything that would negatively impact the situation. We agreed to meet in a few weeks after both groups have time to do more research. More to come on this.
Let me know if you would like to talk directly about any of this. My cell is 910-465-6719. We are most eager to see the 5 year forecast to better understand the situation and will be in touch soon about next steps. Thanks very much for your interest. We’re optimistic that by working together, we can reverse the decline in funding for Los Alamos Schools. Feel free to forward this to others as appropriate. Susan O’Leary