The end of our school year is drawing near with just over 6 weeks left before students and staff leave for the summer.  It is so very hard to believe that the end of the school year is that close! For veteran educators, we all know how crazy the end of the year can be with concerts, field days, paperwork, and the final push to get students across the finish line for the year.

Before these last few weeks get away from us, this week provides an opportunity to pause and give thanks for the tireless efforts of our dedicated and talented team.  There will be many different activities that schools will be doing this week to recognize Teacher Appreciation Week. You will be provided meals, treats, and multiple thank you notes as your efforts are recognized by students, parents, colleagues, and our community.  Take a moment to soak in all of these accolades, because you most certainly deserve all of them and many, many more!

Please know that it is an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to serve with you as we strive daily to maximize the potential of every one of our students and make a positive impact in their lives.  I know that our instructional team dedicates countless hours to plan actively engaging and meaningful lessons for our students. You strive daily to innovate and find creative ways to help students achieve academic success.  I am in awe every time that I have the pleasure of seeing you in action!

I have also seen first-hand the pride that our bus drivers, custodians, and other operational staff have as they support the ongoing success of our Team.  On many occasions, I have talked with our teammates who are quick to point out that the roles of our support staff are much larger than cleaning the floors or dispensing medication.  We are successful because of the contributions of EVERYONE on our team!

I have said before that although we all wear different titles and play different roles on our team, everyone on Team Goochland is an educator who seeks opportunities to prepare our next generation for success.  “The best thing about being a teacher is that it matters. The hardest thing about being a teacher is that it matters every day” – Todd Whitaker. For ALL of our team, what you do every day DOES matter. You are making a positive impact every day!

Please know that the time, talent, and efforts that you dedicate to our school division are greatly appreciated.  It is because of you that the Goochland County Public Schools is, and will continue to be, the standard setter for public education in the Commonwealth.  Thank you for all that you do!

Jeremy

 

On Tuesday of this week (April 17), the Goochland County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the county’s budget for 2018-2019 which also includes our school division budget. The County budget includes $32,678,827 for the School’s operating budget and $1,900,000 for the School’s capital improvements budget, identical budgets approved by the School Board on February 13, 2018. The operating budget will allow the School division to hire one new science teacher at the middle school and one new science teacher at the high school as well as two instructional coaches that will work with teachers to maximize student potential in reading and math, for a total of 370 school-based staff.

All staff will receive the equivalent of a 2% raise with no increase in out of pocket expenses for health insurance for employees who choose our high deductible plan or our $500 deductible plan.  This is significant as other neighboring governments may pass some or all of any increase in health insurance premiums to their employees.

A summary of the proposed, now approved, budget can be found by clicking here with additional detail regarding next year’s budget can be found by clicking here.  The capital budget will allow for security projects at each of the schools, a roof repair at Randolph Elementary School, and a $500,000 set-aside to build a new Goochland Elementary School in 2022.

Many members of Team Goochland spend countless hours working to identify the many strategic needs of our division for the upcoming school year.  Thank you for all of the time and effort that went into this process! It has also been a pleasure working with County staff and the Board of Supervisors who have clearly placed an emphasis on investing in public education in our community.  We are extremely fortunate to have a strong partnership between our School Board and our Board of Supervisors and are grateful for their support!

 

Many of you may be aware that Friday, April 20  is being advertised as the National School Walkout.  It has come to our attention that some of our high school students may participate in this event.  Like the student-led walkout that took place on March 14, our school division will neither encourage, nor will we discourage student participation.  Employees will not be active participants in this event, should it take place.

If a student-led walkout takes place, it is expected to be different from the one that occured last month as we anticipate that students who leave school for this walkout will not return to class.  While our school division respects the right of students to engage in an expression of their voice, we do not support, nor do we condone unauthorized leave from the school grounds during the instructional day.  This Friday, we are planning for a normal instructional schedule. We expect students will attend classes for the duration of the day.

We want to provide advance notice that students who voluntarily choose to walk out tomorrow will be counted with an unexcused absence unless a parent or guardian provides a written note requesting that their child’s absence be excused.  Elementary and middle school students will not be permitted to leave school school grounds unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Our school division’s code of conduct outlines the consequences for students who leave school ground without permission.

It is also important for our students, parents, and guardians to know that once a student leaves school grounds, our school division is no longer able to provide for their safety.  Students who leave school grounds and do not return do so at their own risk.

Please feel free to contact your child’s principal or my office if you have any questions.  As partners in your child’s academic experience, it is important that we work together to foster their success.

Jeremy J. Raley, Ed.D.

Superintendent

 

John L. Lumpkins

Chairman, Goochland County School Board

 

Beginning this spring, we are extending the hours of our preschool and kindergarten registration day. Registration for the 2018-19 school year is set for Thursday, April 19 – and will now take place from 8AM until 7PM.  Please find additional information here:

Preschool Registration, English Version (application)

Preschool Registration, Spanish Version (application)

Kindergarten Registration, English Version

Kindergarten Registration, Spanish Version

 

Spring is officially here, though it may be hard to tell with the winter weather that we experienced earlier this week!  Many may be wondering if we will need to make up any days as a result of the closing yesterday and today’s delay. At this time, no additional make up days are planned.  April 23 would be a make up day only if we miss two more days of school between now and then.  No change will be made in our scheduled Spring Break.  

Despite the weather, Spring is a busy time for our school division as students are actively participating in athletic activities, final preparations are being made for Goochland High School’s Spring musical and students at RES and GMS are getting ready for this weekend’s state Destination Imagination competition.  Even with the weather students were still able to take the Writing SOL this week. Spring will fly by with the end of the school year and graduation less than 9 weeks away! Hopefully warmer weather will be on it’s way so that we can enjoy the full beauty of Goochland’s springtime.

I know that school safety continues to be on everyone’s mind, and incidents nationwide since the Parkland, Florida incident underscore the need for our division to avoid complacency.  Since my initial communication in February, we have been taking a close look at our training, processes, facilities, communication, and collaboration with local agencies toward enhancing student safety.  Among those renewed efforts are the creation of a division safety task force that is in progress, targeted planning for after school crisis incidents to expand on current drills focusing on school day incidents, meetings with first responders, including the Goochland Sheriff’s Office and Fire-Rescue and Emergency Services, and plans for reconfiguration of our student, visitor, and staff parking at the secondary complex.  We welcome your input in this process. If you are interested in serving on our division-wide safety task force, please take a moment to complete this brief online survey.  I look forward to keeping our community updated on these and other efforts that are evolving quickly and will complement our previous plans, which include secure key access system installation in all school facilities, completion of the Informacast public address system to enhance communication, installation of active GPS on all school buses, and collaborative training exercises with the Goochland Sheriff’s Office.

You may notice next time you visit your child’s school that you will no longer simply be “buzzed in” to the facility after pressing the button at the main entrance.  To reinforce the purpose of the secure access, our staff will ask visitors to announce their name and reason for visit before being granted access to the facility. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we work to make continual improvements to our security procedures.    

Although safety is on our minds, there is still plenty to celebrate and look forward to in our schools in the weeks ahead.  We recognized Olivia Bullard as an all-state chorus selection at last week’s School Board meeting. She is only 1 of 2 GHS students to every earn this recognition!  Goochland hosted the SkillsUSA Region II competition last weekend, with Taylor Guy and Derek Powers earning first and second place medals in Heavy Equipment Operating and Jalyn Burns earning a second place finish in Culinary Arts.  Our students are shining in many ways!

Taylor Guy and Derek Powers are winners at District Skills USA competition

 

Jalyn Burns is a second place winner at district Skills USA competition

I am looking forward to our annual Reading Olympics will be held next week on March 29 at GES and am also pleased to announce the news that our MCJROTC unit has been fully funded by the United States Marine Corps!  This is a major victory for our community! Thank you to everyone who advocated for this program with our Senators and Congressman Brat. As of result of this decision, we will be able utilize local funds that were previously allocated for the support of this program to meet our divisions many strategic objectives.

As I mentioned earlier, spring sports are in swing.  Come and support our baseball, softball, tennis, track, and soccer teams this spring, where we return playoff-caliber teams and all-state players in all sports.  In Goochland fine and performing arts, we will host our Fine Arts Festival tomorrow (March 23) beginning at 5 p.m. at GHS. April 27, 28, and 29 will feature the Goochland High School spring musical, Fiddler on the Roof, in the auditorium.  Come and enjoy the work of our talented musicians and thespians.

Goochland County Town Hall meetings, which include valuable information about both our county and schools, conclude with the District 2 and 3 Town Hall held at the newly renovated Central High School facility on Dogtown Road Wednesday, March 28 at 7:00 p.m.

Thank you for your feedback and support during what has been a challenging time for public schools nationwide.  I am proud of the awesomeness of our school division and thankful to have the opportunity to serve our talented students, dedicated staff, and supportive community!  Continue to stay up to date with our division’s events by liking our Facebook page and following us on Twitter (@glndschools) and Instagram (@goochlandschools). Stay current with all of the great things happening in our schools at our division leadership blog at http://leadership.goochlandschools.org.   I look forward to seeing everyone at our many upcoming events in the future!    

 

The Goochland County Office of Children’s Services, in partnership with Goochland Cares, the Goochland-Powhatan Community Services Board, our school division, and other community agencies, has created a Community Care app that includes easy to access information on services to support mental health, substance abuse, and parenting support. Download the Community Care app on your Apple or Android phone today.

https://www.goochlandva.us/DocumentCenter/Home/View/2603

Community Care App

A few weeks ago, I wrote about our school division’s ongoing commitment to provide our students and staff with a safe and secure work and learning environment.  Last month’s school shootings in Parkland, Florida continue to generate a great deal of conversation and questions regarding our school division’s future planning.  In response to this tragic event, there are many student-led movements that deserve our attention. One of these events, the National School Walkout to End Gun Violence, is scheduled to take place on March 14 at 10:00 a.m. for 17 minutes when our students will be in Eagle Block and Bulldog Block.

As we are making plans for this and the possibility for other upcoming student-led events, our focus is on the safety and well-being of our staff and students.  We encourage students to be lifelong learners as well as active and positive contributors to our community. We respect the rights of students to engage in an expression of student voice as long as it is done respectfully, does not interfere with the rights of others, does not disrupt our learning environment, and does not jeopardize the safety of our students or our staff.  Allowing public expression by students, within these parameters, is aligned with our core values of Excellence, Courage, and Honor as we support an environment in which individuals seek to have a purposeful positive impact, advocating for themselves and others at all times.  

Planning for this event has involved students, staff, the Goochland Sheriff’s Office, and the Goochland County Fire-Rescue and Emergency Services.  On March 14, middle school or high school students who voluntarily choose to walk out will exit through designated doors and will re-enter the building in an orderly fashion.  It is important to note that teachers and administrators will neither encourage nor discourage participation in this student led event, nor will our staff participate, other than to provide supervision.  Staff will have a presence both inside and outside to ensure student safety, while security will be provided by the Sheriff’s Office.

Goochland County Public Schools is committed to meeting exceptional standards of growth, achievement, professionalism, character, and personal responsibility.  Our objective on March 14 and everyday is to support these values in a safe environment.

Our administrative team is happy to answer questions that you may have regarding our planned approach to this national event.  Please contact me at 556-5601, Ms. Rucker or Mr. Collier at the school if you would like to discuss this further.

We enjoy a  special and critical  partnership with all of our families, and I am committed to leading our division in a manner where parents, teachers and all school personnel work effectively together everyday to ensure a safe and positive school experience for our students.