LAPS Staff, Students And Community Divided On 2023-2024 Calendar

Calendar Courtesy LAPS


Los Alamos Public Schools board members voted 4-1 Thursday evening to approve Calendar C for school year 2023-2024 “with authorization to staff to amend as needed, to follow New Mexico Laws, Public Education Department regulations and other tweaks”. As predicted, in line with dozens of letters received by the board and some 2,000 comments on a survey conducted before Thursday’s meeting, students, parents, and LAPS staff were very divided about which of the three proposed calendars should be adopted. Read public comments at

The calendar change issue emerged after the legislature passed HB 130 (, which requires that learning time be increased to 1,140 hours for all students. The bill provides for increased funding for additional days beyond 180 that are required by a district to meet the new mandate. The issue was discussed at two board meetings in January before and after the bill was introduced at the legislature. In late January, the district began providing weekly updates to parents and staff. In early February a calendar committee comprised of 37 staff members, parents and community members was established and began holding weekly meetings. The three calendars that were proposed may be seen in the below graphic.

Results of the LAPS survey, which may be viewed at indicate the following statistics for the first choices of the different stakeholders:

Calendar A – 60%
Calendar B – 21.1%
Calendar C – 18.9%

Calendar A – 53.2%
Calendar B – 21.2%
Calendar C – 25.6%

Community, No Children
Calendar A – 67.3%
Calendar B – 23.6%
Calendar C – 9.1%

Calendar A – 23.5%
Calendar B – 29.4%
Calendar C – 47.1%

Elementary Staff
Calendar A – 45.3%
Calendar B – 29.3%
Calendar C – 25.3%

Middle School Staff
Calendar A – 40.6%
Calendar B – 27.5%
Calendar C – 31.9%

High School Staff
Calendar A – 48.4%
Calendar B – 26.6%
Calendar C – 25.0%

All Staff
Calendar A – 44.i%
Calendar B – 27.7%
Calendar C – 28.2%

Other Staff – Transportation etc.
Calendar A – 30%
Calendar B – 22.5%
Calendar C – 47.5%

Following a 63 minute presentation by Acting Supt. Jennifer Guy, board members made their initial comments and heard extensive public comment prior to board Vice Chair Ellen Specter’s motion. The full presentation may be viewed at

Specter said as one board member she didn’t think that Calendar B is an option for this coming school year.

“It requires exploration amongst all the people that affect preparation, collaborating with our partners in the community. We just don’t have time to do that between now and July not to mention the summer plans people already have in place,” she said. “Iwould like to suggest we just go maybe down the line and see if we can get this down to two options and if any of us are thinking seriously Calendar B, if it is the right answer, I can back off of that but it feels like in this discussion getting it down to two choices would be a lot easier. Is there anyone who wants to say, ‘Tonight, Calendar B should be it,’?”

Board President Antonio Jaurigue said he liked the idea of a two-week break between quarters but it’s too much too soon,”.

Specter said she thinks it’s worth exploring all of first semester and the board we can talk about what next year would look like.

“But for tonight and the decision we need to make tonight, I’m really glad we’ve got it down to two choices and I personally at this point am leaning towards Calendar C, giving a trial for a fall break and seeing if we like it. I almost never say, ‘When my kids were in school, but I do want to say as a parent in the district with kids in school from 2000 to 2020, there were many years that we did go into that first week of June because of the way the calendar played out and it was kind of a non-issue – we just did it and it was fine,” she said. “And so giving something new a try, dipping our toes in the water with a fall break between Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 seems to address a lot of the issues we’ve heard and it’s a worthwhile experiment and not such a huge drastic change that we couldn’t try it this year so I’m advocating for Calendar C.”

Board member Christine Bernstein noted that this summer would not be affected with Calendars A and C.

“We’re getting out of school at the end of May and the students would not be starting school until Aug. 9. It will affect teachers by a day. I’ve heard a lot about how we’re not going to have our summers but if you take a good look at things, you realize that the calendar won’t affect everybody until August,” she said.

Bernstein said she had a lot to say and had written it all down. She said she is hearing that people are “tired, exhausted and burned out” and that no matter which calendar they are advocating for “no one is saying they feel great at the end of the school year”.

“I’m grateful to be in a community where we have such high engagement however I’m also somewhat disappointed because from everything I’ve heard, it’s because no one is asking questions- the what ifs – what it we tried something different, what if we did this and there isn’t enough curiosity except people talking about research, I definitely agree with that, she said. “I understand that this is all happening really fast and it seems like the intentions behind it are vague and it leaves a lot of room for doubt and speculation. I want to remind everyone that all of the players here – the community, the superintendent, our leadership, our board members are all human beings. We’re all in this together. We all care about our kids. We are here because we want to be here, because we are making decisions about our education because we truly do care about our students. There’s no secret agenda.  There’s no desire to hurt anyone or to make someone’s summer or school experience bad. We really do want what’s best for our kids.”

She went on reading about what she had gleaned from the calendar discussion

“If we are tired why are we not looking at things to mitigate that exhaustion? If we keep doing the same thing we will still be tired…Our kids are saying they are tired. They value outside of school experiences highly; sports, band, music, arts, and their jobs. I hope somewhere in the near future our kids will be saying they feel energized at the end of the year, that school supports their extra-curriculars, that time spent in class is highly valued and they are learning and feel confident that when they leave they will have the skills needed to be out in the world on their own,” Bernstein said.

She said her biggest concern is what LAPS does with the time at school and that’s the next conversation the board has.

“No matter what calendar we choose, it won’t matter if that time is wasted. I really hope people will embrace something new and find ways to problem-solve and make it work. I have confidence that we can do this and at the very least give it a try before saying no. Summer’s not gone, it’s still there and we can do this,” Bernstein said.

Board member Melanie Colgan said she too does not support Calendar B.

“I noticed the same thing in all of our students’ emails that came our way. It would say, ‘My name is Joe Schmo. And I take five different AP classes, I participate in three different sports,  and I’m the president of this, this, this, and I work a full-time job in the summer and on the weekends I help my granny or whoever it is’. These students as Ms. Bernstein pointed out value that time outside the classroom. They truly do, but at the same time, their plates are overflowing whether they realize it or not, they truly are,” she said.

Colgan said she feels the board needs to add the extra days.

“We’ve talked about funding, we’ve talked about how difficult it is to switch times and add time and things like that. We need to add the extra days but when we do so we need to do so with incredible purpose. A number of students wrote some great examples of what we could do – everything from having field days, more field trips. A number of juniors and seniors wrote that they are about to start applying for colleges and they’ve no idea how to go about that process. Why can’t we have a college and career day at the high school?” she said.

She said if the days are added this year – whether it’s Calendar A or Calendar C – and what to do with those days is really thought out, “We truly want to make an impact on mental health in our children – we keep talking about that in this district. We’re stressed, we’re stressed, we’re stressed. The kids are stressed, everybody’s anxious, but we’re not really doing a lot currently. I think what we need to do between now and the beginning of the next school year is to start figuring out what we want to do and how we can do it with incredible purpose,” Colgan said. “It was already mentioned we’re already top of the state – we’re in the top 10 percent in the country for our school district. We’re doing a great job here. We don’t need these extra days but we have them. That’s where we are in the world. We have them so we need to make the best we can out of those extra days and purposefully decide what we can do to help our students and maybe helping them to find that balance in life before we send them out into the real world where it’s harder to find that balance – maybe those are great lessons that we can throw in this coming school year. So I would like to see that be our focus for these extra days that we need to add whether we go with Calendar A or Calendar C.”

Board member Sondra Wyman spoke earlier in the meeting expressing a desire to keep the calendar that was drafted last spring with 180 days. Before the vote, she said she still thinks the district could get creative with the existing and maybe add a few more days.

 “It pains me to see us go to the additional nine days for our staff and our students, but I do appreciate that Calendar B has been removed. I would probably be okay with Calendar A,” she said.

Jaurigue said he had been struggling since the first survey trying to figure out what he thought was best but also trying to mesh with what the rest of the community thought was best.

“Over 2,000 comments on that survey to review – it was a lot. I had to carve out a lot of time to sit down and go through them. There was a common theme about lost summers, but there was also a lot of misinformation out there including people thinking we’re going to a four week summer or a five week summer – just these horror stories out there. I didn’t connect the dot that was pointed out – that this summer is not impacted. In my mind I’m looking at this calendar connecting both of those summers there but this summer is not impacted by either Calendar A or Calendar C,” Jaurigue said. “I’ve been struggling to gather my thoughts these last few weeks especially. I fully agree with the points that were made about time to implementation. This all did seem to come fast, especially to the public. Although we may have been discussing it here and there, it finally made the news that this bill was going through and it was going to impact us very recently.”

He said regardless of the choice board members would make that night, they need to start a discussion on the next calendar with the options as soon as this next school year starts.

“Let’s start exploring what the next school year would look like. Hopefully we’ll have a template by the time the next legislative session comes about. Hopefully they don’t do something like this. I believe we should prioritize policy that any of the breaks should be breaks. We should put it in writing that the teachers should not assign work during breaks. If a student wants to catch up, to reach out to a teacher and say, ‘Can you give me a work packet so I can understand long division’ that’s one thing, but to give students a break but then not make it a break is wildly unfair. That goes for any of the breaks,” Jaurigue said.

He mentioned that there were some students that had pointed out that they are struggling and need the break. He noted that the board’s consultant had said that the core values for the district should include being accountable for every child.

“The thriving child, the succeeding child or the scientific child – it’s every child.  The kid that is drowning in our system – they might be able to catch a breath….It may not be the cure for burnout. It may not have the effect that we want but we wouldn’t know otherwise. I’m opposed to just staying the course as we are. I would like to try something new. We are one of the top high schools in the nation, one of the top districts in the nation. We have the ability to innovate. We have the ability to lead the state. It is a risk. I will say I’m afraid. I don’t want to discount the people who are against this by saying they’re afraid of change because their concerns are legitimate. Their concerns with these calendars are legitimate concerns. Speaking for myself, I’m afraid of this change, but I think we can do it. I have faith in our students that are striving are still going to thrive. Our students that are struggling will get a breath in the middle of this quarter. I am advocating for Calendar C, ” Jaurigue said.