On behalf of Rachel Kumar, Elementary and Middle School Outreach Chair at the University of Virginia:

The Society of Women Engineers at the University of Virginia invites 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to their Girls in Engineering Science Exploration Program taking place on Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 from noon – 3:30pm in UVa’s engineering school. The program is designed to give girls a comprehensive look at engineering through hands-on design activities and demonstrations, a tour of the engineering school, and lunch with current engineering students. The Society aims to showcase the many diverse, exciting, and creative fields that make up engineering. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis and there will be a non-refundable fee of $5 that covers all activities and lunch.

Please click here for the corresponding application packet.

If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Kumar at rpk4nw@virginia.edu.

It has certainly been a tough couple weeks of weather in our beautiful county.  We are certain that many of our families are as frustrated as we are that we have not been able to open schools, especially today (January 31).  As one drives through the county on main roads such as Broad St., Fairgrounds, River Rd., Hockett Rd., Manakin Rd., it is hard to imagine that schools are closed.  My teammates that drive the Western end of the county are reporting similar conditions on main roads.  As we begin to drive on secondary roads, even some of the major connectors, we have significant concerns.

TODAY’S SCHOOL CLOSING

I personally drove Sheppardtown Rd. to Maidens Rd. to Log Cabin Rd. back to Maidens Rd. to Hawktown Rd. to Camelback Rd.  Even in that short drive at the beginning of our assessment, it was clear that it was not safe for bus passage.  Log Cabin Rd., for instance, had barely been touched with a very steep hill covered with ice.  Seeing those conditions, we decided to close.

We also know that with rising temperatures, we could have been fine by 11am or 12pm, but by 9am when our buses had to be on the road, conditions would not be ready.  The rest of our teammates were reporting similar conditions all throughout the county.  While driving backroads, we rarely found a spot that did not have at least 20 ft. of ice about every quarter mile.  We realized that if it were not the 10th absence, we would not even consider opening in these conditions.  Here is an example of a picture we saw during our assessment today:

Some have asked us why we called for the delay in the evening, then closed in the morning.  We were continuing to work with VDOT throughout the evening and felt like we had a strong possibility for improvement with their support; however, upon assessing conditions in the morning, the roads were not ready.  We apologize for having to make the call in the morning, but we sent notifications as soon as we were certain that closing was necessary.

SNOW ROUTES

Many families have asked us about snow routes and whether we would consider implementing snow routes.  The answer is yes!  We are working on designing snow routes and should have an announcement soon.  That being said, we have seen conditions over the past two weeks where snow routes would not have helped.  Major roads for our transportation system, such as Sheppardtown most of this week (the road that houses RES) and Whitehall last week, would be required during any snow route.  That being said, we will work to see if we can avoid those spots and select safe locations to pick up our students.  It will take us several days to create these routes now that we know the worst spots, but we will be announcing them soon.  Additionally, once created we will need to test them during another storm before making the call to be certain all are safe.

MAKE-UP DAYS

Please remember that February 17 and March 21 are now school days for students and staff.  At this time, we have no plans to add additional make-up days as our calendar still has some flexibility.  We are required to have 990 hours of total instruction or a 180 day calendar.  Fortunately, our calendar allows us to miss many more days to meet the 990 hour requirement.  The difficulty comes at GMS and GHS with the 140-clock hour requirement for standard credits for graduation.  Last year, the VDOE offered us an option under our policy IKF-R2 to waive the 140-clock hour requirement under certain circumstances.  At this point, we feel that we have everything required to waive the 140-clock hour requirement, so we are not recommending additional make-up days.  We have no plans to do any days over Spring Break at all.  If we have a significant number of additional days off, then we may consider more make-up days, but will consider numerous options before canceling Spring Break due to the feedback that we have received about the number of families that have already booked and made plans.

WORK DAYS

Teachers, as I am sure you are aware, many divisions have been holding workdays during the extended school closings.  Assuming major road conditions are fine, similar to today, we just want to prepare you that we will likely implement professional development sessions or at least have classroom workdays and team meetings.

GENERAL THOUGHTS

Thank you all so much for your flexibility during this difficult month of weather.  Please know that we do not take school closings lightly.  We think about the high school student that just got his/her license and whether or not he/she is ready to drive in these conditions.  We care for all children and we think about whether we would want our own children out in these conditions.  At the same time, we think about how difficult it must be in families where all parents/guardians work and wonder how they find coverage for their children.  Lastly, we think about the child who potentially doesn’t eat or have heat at home when school is closed and we know that school is the safest possible place.

With that said, if it is safe to travel to school, we will be here.  We will continue to find alternate ways to avoid days like today.  But if it is not safe, I hope that you will trust that we are making a decision to protect your children.  At the end of the day, we know that our children are safe today.

Due to the cancellation of our small group budget work sessions with school board members during the inclement weather on January 21, we have rescheduled mini-sessions throughout the next two weeks.

The Elementary, Gifted, Title I, and Cafeteria/Food Service detailed budget analysis with Mrs. Hardy will occur on February 6 at 3pm in the Goochland Central Office.

The Secondary, CTE, Perkins, and WIA sessions with Mr. Payne along with the Special Education, Student Services, Title VI, Title III, and Transportation sessions with Mr. Lumpkins will occur together on February 6 at 5:15pm in the Goochland Central Office.

The Technology, Testing, Summer School, and Maintenance sessions with Mr. Hazzard along with the Division-wide, Title II, and Administration budget sessions with Mr. Wright will occur together on February 10 at 4:30pm in the Goochland Central Office.

All community members, parents, students, teachers and any school stakeholders are welcome to join these small group sessions for a detailed analysis of our major budget categories as facilitated by principals and school division administrators.  The school board will vote to adopt the FY15 budget for submission to the Board of Supervisors on February 11.

Please join us in congratulating the GHS Scholastic Bowl Team. The team placed second in the Conference 34 tournament and qualified for the 2 A East Region competition for the first time!

The tournament will be held February 8 at Maggie Walker High School from 4 to 10 PM. It’s a round-robin format and an exciting competition.

We wish the team the very best and encourage you to come support the Bulldog Scholars and their coaches, Mr. Brook and Mr. Smith!

How aware are you about the impact social media has on your child? How aware are you about how to use these tools safely?

Are you interested in knowing more about how your son or daughter is using their cell phone?

We’ll cover this and more in a roundtable event with guests to include GCPS teachers, principals, the Goochland Sheriff’s Office, and students. This event is free and light refreshments will be served.

February 13, 6:30 PM – JSRCC Community Room

Please call to RSVP, 556-5630

Goochland High School seniors are excited to visit the mailbox these days, as their college acceptances are starting to roll in. As the second semester begins, the focus of seniors is now shifting to paying for college and the financial aid process.

The GHS school counseling office has many great resources to help along the way.

This Saturday the GHS School counseling team is hosting SUPER SATURDAY – a workshop where students and families can bring with them their latest tax filing paperwork (2012 is perfectly fine) and sit down with experts who can help them complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

SUPER SATURDAY is Saturday, February 1 from 10:00am-12:00pm in the GHS Library Media Center.

Additionally, the GHS school counseling team has partnered with Greater Richmond Aspirations Advising (GRASP) and offers individual sessions by appointment each Wednesday with GRASP counselor Laurie Deadrick. Ms. Deadrick is available to sit down with students and/or families to complete the FAFSA process, as well as help interpret financial aid award letters.

Finally, GCPS recently hosted a Financial Aid Information Night on January 14. Senior Associate Director of Financial Aid at the University of Richmond, Mr. Chip Bryan presented on the associated terminology and the process of determining financial aid awards. Mr. Bryan spoke from both the student and the university perspective. His full presentation from this recent event is available on the GHS school counseling site.

We’re proud of our students – and we’re here to help support our families.

We hope this finds everyone well and having had a restful, happy holiday season. Thank you for making the transition to the second semester so seamless and positive for our students and families.

As you may know, our School Board approved the division’s strategic plan in December. Their unanimous approval affirmed the hard work that happens across our organization each day, as well as the thoughtful collaboration that went into eighteen months of building our strategic plan.

We are working to inspire and prepare the next generation to make a positive impact – and we’d like to celebrate together.

We will officially kickoff the next five years of our school-community’s journey on February 14 at 1:45PM in the GHS auditorium. We’ll reflect, celebrate, distribute some inspiring gear, and send everyone home early on this Valentine’s Friday.

As always, thank you for everything you do on behalf of our students and families.  If you want to review the strategic plan in advance, we have the entire document and the executive summary on the strategic plan website.

James Lane, Superintendent Steve Geyer, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Pete Gretz, Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations

Congratulations to Mrs. Erin Yearout-Patton on being selected by Education First to receive a professional development scholarship.  The scholarship is sponsored through the association of the Virginia School-University Partnership and Education First to provide opportunities for global travel so VSUP members can learn about education in other countries and partner with foreign schools.  This educational endeavor is offered to only fifty individuals across nation.

This summer Mrs. EYP will join other teachers on an Education First Professional Development Tour to Peru.  Traveling with fellow educators from all over the United States, she will have the opportunity to participate in service-learning and educational activities.  She will visit local schools while also seeing Peru’s major cultural and historical sites.

“Mrs. EYP shared that she felt honored to be selected and to have the opportunity to represent her district and school as a participant in this partnership,” explained her principal, Mike Newman.

Congratulations Mrs. EYP!