Input On Los Alamos School Board’s 4-1 Vote For Calendar C

Los Alamos

I was disappointed that the school board voted for Calendar C, despite most of the parents, teachers and students voted for Calendar A.

It felt like the school board didn’t listen to us and went along with their preconceived notion of what they are going to vote for.

In Monday’s meeting, it was disclosed that MS and HS wouldn’t need additional hours and that only Elementary schools needed to increase the hours to meet the required 1140 hours by the state. That could have been achieved by simply adding the time on Wednesdays. Perhaps it would have been a solution to transition to a new schedule.

In Thursday’s (March 23) School Board Meeting, Acting Supt. Jennifer Guy presented additional programs with an already existing $13 million budget. The proposed program for additional funding was $ 649,000 for a program that adds 6 additional math teachers who are more “motivated and teach in a fun way”. I believe that our teachers are quite capable and skilled to teach academics and that there is no need to add teachers. Our teachers work above and beyond and if given freedom to find creative ways while maintaining the academic needs, I believe will be successful.
Perhaps it would be wiser to investigate why so many teachers are leaving? To think of getting these specialty teachers and spending $480,000 on 6 of them seems steep. We shall see if we even have enough teachers to cover all the schools. Other programs include “inclusivity and equity training for teachers”. The details on this program should be explored and parents informed. It may spark controversy especially in people’s belief systems. Funding for JJAB and FSN was included as well, which I believe is deserving. 

Why is the pursuit of money more important than our children’s well-being? When has our value system changed to such an extent that we put money before our children’s mental and emotional health?

Isn’t that more important than to pursue then adding additional programs for the extra funding? Why can’t we even cover the basics?

The clear pursuit for the additional funding by adding days to the schedule seems more of a selling out of our children, teachers and well-being for programs which aren’t necessary. Why are we not focusing on educating our children with academics but rather follow political interests? How come that CO is #3 in the nation and we are 50th?

In a town where the highest accumulations of PhDs call their home, it seems quite surreal.
Can the teachers teach the academics they are trained to teach? What does the curriculum look like? Do we even know what our children are being taught?  Why is there no program for students with dyslexia instead? Why are so many teachers leaving? Who believes that increasing school time by days is more effective? What is the goal?

What was disturbing also, that there were about 200 parents online and perhaps 50 in the room of which the majority preferred the Calendar A. Only a few parents online were able to comment but they did so graciously including others who didn’t get a chance. They brought forth many valuable points to the school board. Many even had suggestions on how to solve the added time. Did the school board listen to us? I felt like they didn’t.

The student liaison Willow did a wonderful job speaking out for herself as well as the students bringing forth compelling arguments how a change in schedule will impact her life and the students’ lives in their summer jobs, activities, family visits, mental and emotional health and motivation.
Another young man, very eloquently, stated his arguments extremely clearly and logically.

*Board Vice President Ellen Spector’s statement, that parents are not educated to make such decisions and should not be taken into consideration, was quite inconsiderate and lacked humility. Parents paid attention to that and parents online commented on that, rightfully so. Our school board should be a liaison for the students, teachers, parents and community and a bridge between both sides.

We need liaisons who advocate for our students and parents. Board member Sonya Wyman was the only one with critical thinking, questioning the need for additional hours since there was no transparency on if and why. 

Board member Christine Bernstein attempted to look for answers yet seemed conflicted. Board member Melanie Colgan did applaud the hard-working teachers but had very little else to say and the board president (Antonio Jaurigue) unfortunately seemed indifferent to the opinion of others. Did the school board really listen to us?

These are OUR kids and we have their best interest at heart. We have to be respectful of everyone’s opinion, but can we do that with the right heart, mind and intention, despite their own preference? 

It would have been helpful to have transparency from what the state expects and how much freedom the individual districts have to implement the changes.

I like to ask for more inquiry on the monies, the conditions of funding and if it’s necessary to increase hours. Perhaps this way the community, parents and students can have a voice and their voices are being heard, regarded and taken into consideration. 

We all deserve to be heard and participate in the decisions of our children.

*Editor’s note: The following are the actual comments made by board Vice President Ellen Specter:

We as a board were elected to represent constituents but not to operate on popular opinion alone. We as board members have a lot of background that we’ve accumulated over our time on the  board and every day that the public just doesn’t have the bandwidth – and any of the stakeholders don’t have the bandwidth because they’re busy doing their jobs. And so our job is to synthesize all of this, 3,000 bits of information and opinions and surveys and emails and comments and three meetings and popular opinion is part of it but not nearly all of it.  So as we are thinking about which calendars to choose I want us to keep that in mind please. I also want us keep in mind that without the extra days we’re going to be in a pickle about the money. Things will have to be cut if we’re $2 million short and we don’t have an option about the hours – it’s the law so we have to do it, so we do have to deal with where the money is. Making the decision tonight is really important for the mental health of our community and our staff. To try to cram everything that would have to be done in two days would just throw us all into chaos and wouldn’t get us any better information than we already have tonight.