Back to School

LOS LUNAS — Los Lunas Schools is on track to have an exceptionally exciting 2023-24 school year full of change and new opportunities for students and staff.

Deborah Elder
Los Lunas Schools interim superintendent

District administrators recently announced they would be providing free school supplies to all students for the upcoming school year. This won’t include personal items, such as backpacks and water bottles, but the basic school supplies will be provided at no cost.

“Families that have multiple children spend hundreds of dollars on school supplies every year,” said LLS Interim Superintendent Deborah Elder. “Additionally, we expect it will reduce some of the burden on teachers, because when students don’t have supplies, oftentimes it’s their teachers who take care of them, so we’re very excited about this initiative.”

Elder said in a KOB 4 report that the free supplies are being funded primarily through federal COVID relief funds.

All LLS staff will also see a significant raise this coming school year. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation this year that increased the minimum salaries of all three tiers of teachers by $10,000. She also signed into law an average 6 percent pay raise for all educators.

LLS will be taking their raises a step further. Andrew Saiz, LLS chief personnel officer, said there will be about a 13 percent salary increase for the average LLS employee going into the new school year.

All LLS students will also continue to receive free school meals through the continuation of the federally-funded Community Eligibility Program. The LLS student nutrition program will also receive funding from the state through the recently-signed Healthy Universal School Meals Act.

The state will also provide more funding for NM Grown, a program that allows schools to purchase fresh ingredients from local farmers which LLS has been utilizing for several years.

“I feel that the wrap-around support of the meals, school supplies and increased employee salaries will all come together to create a high level of support for our community which is exactly what we want to do,” said Elder.

LLS will also be welcoming a new superintendent, which the school board hopes to have selected by Aug. 1. Three finalists have been selected and the community will have the opportunity to meet them from 6-8 p.m., Monday, July 24, at the Terri Ortiz Teacher Resource Center, 801 Coronado, in Los Lunas.

Student learning outcomes is also something Elder wants to accelerate this coming school year. Recently, Elder met with groups of elementary, middle and high school teachers to develop 90-day plans that identify high-level strategies within the classroom to raise the academic bar for all students.

“For example, we had a discussion around visual thinking strategies that encourages students to take a concept they learned and turn it into something visual, so it becomes something tangible,” said Elder. “It’s a very powerful strategy for students because it gets them to own their learning instead of passively absorbing it and regurgitating it on a test.”

Elder said the district has also increased career technical education offerings and plan on ramping up their career awareness program for all grade levels this year. Improving reading and math literacy has also been a big push which the district plans on carrying into the new year.

The LLS calendar has also changed for the 2023-24 school year, which will officially begin for students on Aug. 1. The school year will continue to last 187 days, but the school day had to be increased by a few minutes to satisfy the requirements of House Bill 130.

Elder said the district has also hired a two new school resource officers for the upcoming school year, and emphasized LLS is continually looking at safety measures that can be added and improved.

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Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.