Dr. Gretz emailed faculty/staff earlier this week and created a more lengthy blog post about our gala with information on registration HERE.  My post is just to encourage anyone and everyone available to attend.  The Gala is the primary fundraising opportunity hosted annually by the education foundation and this year’s event is going to be especially fun.  We have reduced rates for faculty and staff and fun events for all attendees.  See you there!

Please know that I am out of the office this week.  I wanted to make you aware in the event that I do not respond right away to messages or emails, but I promise to respond as soon as possible.  We celebrated the birth of our daughter, Kerrington, on March 8, and I am home this week helping my family.

Please congratulate John Lumpkins (D-3) for being elected chairman of the Blue Ridge Virtual Governor’s School Board.  Mr. Lumpkins’ leadership comes on the heels of his recent participation in the VSBA Virtual Learning Task Force.

Kevin Hazzard (D-2) was elected Vice-Chair of the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School Board.  You may remember that Mr. Hazzard was instrumental in working with GCPS and MLWGS to increase the number of students that Goochland sends to MLWGS from 4 to 7 each year.

Congratulations to you both!

The following information was shared with employees in an email on February 28:
You may be reading in the newspaper today or hearing in the news that all employees will receive a 2% raise in Goochland.  I actually have great news about this!  Please know that nothing is final yet, so I wanted to clarify where the raise is at this point.
Our County Administrator, Ms. Dickson, presented a budget proposal to the Board of Supervisors on Monday (February 25) that includes an additional $320,000 for GCPS.  This amount is equivalent to the funding that would be needed to give all faculty and staff a 2% pay raise on average (along with the funding provided by the General Assembly/Governor).  The Board of Supervisors has not yet adopted their budget, nor held public hearings, so these funds are not yet official.  Also, the school board will also have to approve the use of these funds in a revised budget.  When asked about the proposal, we thanked the county for proposing this funding.
Also, I would like to let you know that it is my plan to recommend to the school board that all of this funding be used for compensation for faculty and staff, if appropriated.  Please also remember that all of these funds, if approved for salary and compensation, will be above and beyond the 4.66% increase the board approved to finalize phase-in of the new VRS rates for employees hired prior to July 1, 2012.  Employees hired since July 1 will also receive the increased compensation as part of the potential 2%.
I know this is exciting news as it has been so long since our dedicated faculty and staff have seen compensation adjustments.  I promise to keep you updated as our school board and our partners at the county head towards final decisions.  The Board of Supervisors should finalize their budget in mid-April.  The School Board should finalize their budget with any adjustments based on the BOS’ decision by early May.
I would like to openly thank the county administrator for proposing this funding and I continue to feel optimistic that this proposal could remain in the county budget.  Our trust and partnership between the county and the schools continues to grow and I think our children, faculty, and staff will see the benefits.  If approved by both boards in May, please take the time to thank them for considering salary and compensation in GCPS for the first time in many years.  Please let me know if you have any questions!

Towards the end of February, school board members and superintendents from all divisions represented in Congressman Cantor’s district (District 7) were invited to sit down and discuss education policy with the House Majority Leader.  Goochland was represented by Mrs. Hardy (D-4), Mr. Payne (D-1), and me.  We had an excellent meeting and the Congressman and his legislative team discussed their positions on Sequestration, unfunded mandates, the reauthorization of the ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind), and global education rankings.  We shared the board’s position on several of these areas with our continued focus encouraging local control over educational decision-making.

On the same day, the new Rosa Parks statue was unveiled at the Capitol and we took a detour on the way to our car to grab a picture.

The school board voted unanimously to honor Luck Stone and add them to the Virginia School Board Association’s Business Honor Roll.

Luck Stone, based out of Goochland, has been an exceptional partner this year.  Mark Fernandes, Chief Leadership Officer, of Luck Companies has been working with our faculty and staff to teach us how to build a vision and mission based on core values.  His work has energized the work we are doing to build our new strategic plan in the upcoming months.  Luck Stone has also given to our schools through strategic partnerships and participation on many of our committees, such as our CTE advisory committee.  Luck Companies work is based on their mission to “ignite human potential.”

We truly appreciate the work they are doing to help improve our schools and congratulate them on the Honor Roll!

As a side note, Luck Companies has released a new “app” that can be downloaded for free, for instance, in Apple’s App Store that can help you identify your own core values.

You can also learn more by joining the Values Based Leadership (#VBL) conversation on Twitter at @marksfernandes.  You can learn more about igniter through the hashtag #igniter.

On March 12, the school board approved a policy on 1st reading to allow an expansion of non-resident student enrollment.  All policies must be approved on 2 readings, so the final approval will be considered on April 9.  Currently, only children on non-resident GCPS staff members may enroll in our schools for a rate of $1,000 per year.  The new policy will allow all county employees (not just school board employees) to enroll their children at the same rate as GCPS staff if they are non-residents.  Additionally, any other non-resident may choose to enroll their child at a higher rate to be determined annually by the superintendent ($3,000 is projected for the 2013-2014 school year).  The board’s policy clarifies that non-residents will only be considered for admission if:

  1. The student is in good academic and behavioral standing and remains in good standing throughout enrollment.
  2. There is program and space availability (i.e. if the school, grade-level, or classroom is not over capacity).
  3. The student’s enrollment does not require the hiring of additional staff or the purchase of additional resources.
  4. The non-resident student will not be allowed to enroll in specialized programs, such as the Governor’s schools, ahead of any Goochland resident interested.

We have received numerous requests from families living in areas where Goochland schools are closer to their homes than the schools in their home county.  The final draft of the policy will be available on the school board’s April 9 agenda, when posted during the first week of April (updated since the original post).  The agenda page is located here.

At their meeting on March 12, the school board approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Goochland Electoral Board to offer civics lessons to GHS Seniors as part of our 12th Grade Government classes.  The electoral board members will share the electoral process and some of our Seniors will be chosen as sworn officers at local polling places.  Thank you so much to Mrs. Yearout-Patton for helping draft the MOU and to both boards for agreeing to this excellent real-life experience for our students!

In other Government news, Kerri Anderson, a Senior at GHS, just learned that she has made it to the final round for the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership’s High School Leader Program.  This program is a prestigious opportunity for high school students to learn about state and local government and politics.

Congratulations to Abbie Allison for qualifying for the All-State Band!.  She will be participating with some of the best HS musicians in the state in the All-State Band event at the end of our Spring Break.  It has been quite a few years since anyone from GHS has qualified at this level of play, and much less a sophomore!  She will be participating in All-State band at Harrisonburg HS April 4-6, culminating in a concert on the 6th.

Earlier this month, Dr. Gretz blogged about the work of our school safety task force.  Following his report, the school board authorized $60,000 to be transferred from the instructional category to the operations and maintenance category of our budget.  We are now forwarding the request to the county leadership for final approval. If approved, we will begin the procurement and installation of the first round of security measures recommended by the task force, including upgrading our exterior cameras at GHS and installing a buzzer-entry system at GMS and GHS.

We want to ensure you that the work of improving safety in our schools will be ongoing and that this funding authorization is only the initial and immediate recommendations of the committee.  We will continue to keep you updated as other recommendations are available and as long as the information, when made public, will not jeopardize the effectiveness of internal safety measures and protocols.

The Goochland Gazette reported on the school board’s approval and discussion here.