LAFSE NEWS RELEASE
Los Alamos Federation of School Employee’s (LAFSE) goals are to negotiate the best benefits and compensation possible for Los Alamos Public Schools’ (LAPS) employees and defend the rights detailed in their collectively bargained agreements. However, Stacy Martens, LAFSE Co-President, notes that “It isn’t all about pay and benefits. The environment that teachers, educational assistants, and support staff report to every day affects their job satisfaction, and ultimately, LAPS’ ability to hire and retain great staff members who care about student learning. The Union and LAPS need the help of the community to ensure that LAFSE members and their students have safe, clean, and appropriate working and learning conditions.”
LAFSE asks that the community help LAPS and LAFSE support staff and students by voting YES on the LAPS General Obligations (GO) Bond, a measure that will fund the rebuild and renovation of LAPS schools, at the polls by Nov. 7.
The largest projects that the GO Bond would support is the rebuilding of Pinon and Chamisa Elementary Schools, originally constructed in 1964 and 1968 respectively. An added incentive, according to LAPS Superintendent Jennifer Guy, is that “the State Public School Capital Outlay Council has offered LAPS an additional $35 million to go towards the reconstruction of Chamisa and Pinon if we pass the GO Bond. This funding is critical to ensure that we are able to update our school buildings to meet the needs of our students. It is unprecedented for Los Alamos to have this level of state funding to build these schools. This bond money will mean that we can better meet the needs of our students and our community.”
Currently, the working and learning conditions in parts of Chamisa and Pinon Elementaries are less than ideal. Over at Pinon, Laura Herman details how the aging roof over her classroom leaks, the maintenance and repair of which can be quite distracting from her lessons. The LAFSE member and 2nd grade teacher says “Having a new school where students and teachers don’t have to worry about the integrity of the building would be such a relief and help us all focus on learning rather than where to place trash cans and buckets for upcoming rain and snow storms.”
Heather Metzger-Majors, LAFSE member and Chamisa 2nd Grade Teacher, relates that she currently teaches “in the same classroom [she] attended about 42 years ago and not much has changed.” Of the prospect of a brand new building supported by GO Bond funds, Metzger-Majors says “We could have real walls and doors which would improve climate, sound and safety conditions. Students that are currently learning in portable classrooms will be in a true brick and mortar building and not feel so isolated from the rest of school. All of this would truly make a positive impact on student and teacher well being. Happy, comfortable teachers, staff and students makes for a more enjoyable and pleasant teaching and learning environment.”
While LAPS is confident that they would be able to complete the Pinon rebuilding project without the GO Bond funding, LAPS will have to hold off on beginning construction on Chamisa’s rebuild if the Bond does not pass. This delay would be a blow to Chamisa students and staff.
Additionally, the lack of GO Bond funding would delay other much needed repairs and renovations in the district. “Our facilities, buildings and HVAC systems are used daily by thousands of students and hundreds of staff members. Due to the age of these structures and systems repairs and replacements are often needed to maintain optimal learning environments.” said Mike Johnson, Assistant Superintendent for Safety and Operations.
The LAPS GO Bond would also pay for HVAC updates at Los Alamos High School and Los Alamos Middle School. LAHS’ Topper Freshmen Academy and D Wing, the home of many Career Technology and Fine Arts classes, currently have partial or poorly functioning air conditioning. Leslie Clark, LAFSE member and a teacher of Social Studies housed in E Wing said “No one functions at their best when they are uncomfortably cold or hot.” Mrs. Clark spends time daily trying to make her freshmen students as comfortable as possible so that they can focus on their lesson. She says that “Updated heating and the addition of A/C would make my room far more hospitable for learning without the distractions or discomfort of loud fans, sudden wind gusts, wasps flying in from the open back door and fidgeting with blinds.”
Also, money from the proposed GO Bond would be used to complete the Barranca Elementary playground, a project left over after Barranca’s renovation in 2020, and renovate the gyms at Aspen and Mountain Elementaries. Of the condition of the Aspen Elementary School gym, Vickie Daley, a LAFSE member and GATE teacher, says it “does not have adequate heating” to the point that her students “have to wear their winter coats inside for PE during the winter.” Daley claims that “having the gym renovated would give our PE teacher and community peace of mind that students can focus on their learning rather than their shivering.”
The environment in which staff teach and students learn is an integral piece of the learning process. LAFSE Co-President Trey Pereyra states “so, we must take pride in the conditions of the classrooms, offices, and common areas our students and staff use daily. That pride starts with up to date facilities that provide staff and students a welcoming space. We humbly ask that all community members vote YES on the LAPS GO Bond at the polls to support our union members and their students.”