In 2004, recognizing the need to address growing financial pressures, the Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS) Board of Education formed a “Financial Stability Task Force”. One of the recommendations of the task force was the creation of a charitable non-profit corporation, the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation, whose purpose is to raise community and corporate funding in support of the Los Alamos Public Schools.
Filling the Need
Articles of Incorporation were filed with the New Mexico Public Regulations Commission and on November 28, 2005, the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation was incorporated as a New Mexico Nonprofit corporation. Since then, the Foundation has consistently raised funds to support educational programs, promote professional development of teachers and other school staff, defray operating expenses and help fund school capital improvements. In November, 2016, the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation celebrated its facilitation of $1 million in donations to LAPS.
The Los Alamos Public Schools provided significant monetary and in-kind support to advance the creation and development of the Foundation. In the initial years of the forming of the Foundation, the Los Alamos Public Schools provided: salary and benefits for a part-time employee; office space; a computer and office equipment; telephone service; meeting room space; supplies and postage; and travel expenses incurred by the coordinator to attend meetings and training.
Putting Together a Team
Upon incorporation, an initial Board of Directors comprised of the following individuals was formed:
- Sharon Stover-President, former Los Alamos County Councilor, LAPS parent
- Cheryl Pongratz-Vice-President, Kiwanis Club member, retired school administrator
- Kenneth Johnson-Treasurer, LAPS Board of Education, President
- Dr. James Anderson-Secretary, Superintendent, Los Alamos Public Schools
- Christine Chandler-Director, Attorney for Los Alamos National Laboratory
- Mary McLoed-Director, Curriculum Coordinator, Los Alamos Public Schools
The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation hired its first employee in January of 2008.
“Why do I support the School Foundation? As a science teacher in LAPS, I was fortunate to have access to most of the science equipment/supplies I needed, but I rarely had access to the professional development necessary to stay current in my field. As a principal at 4 different LAPS schools, I never had sufficient discretionary funds to provide adequate student or teacher recognition, deal with unanticipated problems, or support creativity and innovation. As assistant superintendent, I wanted to do more to support students and staff but again, money was the issue. In New Mexico the funding system doesn’t favor school districts like Los Alamos. Fortunately, we are a wealthy community that values education and we can help ourselves. I have chosen to do that through donations to and involvement on the Board of the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation.”
–Cheryl Pongratz, Board President, Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation