Public Hearing In Los Alamos Tuesday On Proposed Polaris Charter School


A public hearing is being conducted by the Public Education Department Tuesday in Los Alamos on an application submitted in May for Polaris Charter School. Courtesy image


The application process for a charter school for sixth through eight graders in Los Alamos is finally at the public input point and members of the founding team are invited the public to an hour-long hearing with Public Education Department officials from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at UNM-LA.

The application for Polaris Charter School was submitted to the New Mexico Public Education Department in May following several years of rigorous preparation.

The school’s mission is to engage students in the community, environment, history and culture of Northern New Mexico through personalized hands-on learning experiences that strengthen and support student well-being and intellectual growth. The application lists three objectives: academic growth, social-emotional learning and active citizenship. The target geographical area for the projected student population includes Los Alamos County as well as the communities of Jemez, Espanola and Pojoaque. The Polaris team was established as an outgrowth of the XQ project, a competition the community worked on and supported.

The application says Polaris Charter School will improve Los Alamos Public Schools by “providing a new learning model for students based on current research into understanding the developmental needs and function of the adolescent brain”. The executive summary of the application may be seen here:…/2019-new-applications/.

Founding member of the Polaris team and a proposed governing board member of the proposed school Bill Hargraves spoke to the Los Alamos Reporter Sunday about the Tuesday hearing. He stressed that he was speaking on behalf of the Polaris team and .not in his capacity as a Los Alamos Public Schools board member.

“The Polaris team is encouraging members of the public to attend the public hearing and present input to the PED. People should consider attending whether they have a positive or negative opinion about the proposed school,” Hargraves said.

He said he is excited about the mission and the expected outcome of the proposed school where he said the expectations in terms of academics will not be any lower but a different kind of learning will be created.

“Even if your child has been very successful in the Los Alamos Public Schools system, I invite you to look at the executive summary and think about whether this type of school would work for a child you know,” Hargraves said.

Information on the proposed school’s budget and facilities requirements are also available at the above link. Hargraves said if PED approves the school there will be a planning year and a search for a facility to house the school. If approved, the plan is to open the school in August 2020, he said.

Other members of the founding team and proposed governing members are: Elizabeth Martineau, Branden Willman-Kozimor, Amy Bartlett Gaunt, Scott Johnson, Robert Gibson, Jane Clements, Ken Holmes and Christine Bernstein.