At 8:30 a.m. this morning, the Goochland County Public School System collaborated with the Sheriff’s Office to do a drug search at Goochland High School using the Goochland Canine Unit.  The school followed lock-down procedures during the search. Random classrooms were searched after students were removed from the rooms.  The search was concluded at 9:35 a.m.

We are happy to report that the search revealed no evidence of drugs or drug paraphernalia at Goochland High School today!

Goochland County Public Schools have no tolerance for drugs or drug paraphernalia at school.  We believe that random searches of our building are imperative to ensuring that your child attends a safe and orderly school.

Please understand that while we are committed to keeping our parents informed immediately during emergency situations, we will not announce these types of events in advance or while they are underway in order to maintain a safe school environment and to ensure the efficacy of our efforts.

Don’t hesitate to contact me or your child’s principal if you have any questions or concerns.

Dear Parents, Staff, Students and GCPS Community:

The school board met this past Tuesday night to consider proposals for how we will address the 16 missed days of school and ensure maximum delivery of instruction. The Board approved a plan that involves the following two significant revisions to our current schedule and calendar:

  1. Extend the current school year by 5 additional days, making the last day of school for students Friday, June 6.
  1. Beginning Monday, March 17th, all elementary schools will begin at 8:20 and dismiss at 3:15. This will be a permanent change. These adjustments may require new routines for afternoon pick-up. Each principal will communicate details with families.

These two changes will enable us to meet the Virginia minimum requirement of 990 instructional hours in all five schools. More importantly, this will provide all of our students with the instructional time they need to support deeper learning and prepare for spring testing.

These two changes will impact the spring testing and marking period dates accordingly:

  • The SOL spring testing window and high school level course exams will be moved one week later. GHS and GMS will notify respective parents about specific details.
  • Marking Periods will be adjusted as follows:

Last Day of MP3:      Friday, March 28

Report Cards Printed: Tuesday, April 1

Report Cards Home:   Wednesday, April 2

We are finalizing details for graduation and are considering waiving the last week of school for seniors. We will send a special letter to seniors and their families once all determinations have been made. Graduation will remain the weekend of May 30th but may move by a day or two for reasons unrelated to these calendar revisions.

I realize adjustments to the calendar are inconvenient and unpopular. We have already begun considering the suggestions we will offer the Calendar Committee to develop future calendars that could potentially accommodate significant numbers of absences without this much disruption.

As we adhere to the tenets of our newly adopted strategic plan, our decisions must align to our values and our goals. As a school community we have committed ourselves to excellence and honor and we must maximize our students’ opportunities for learning and comply with the authority of the Virginia Code. I am confident that these revisions, while difficult to implement, will support our efforts to maximize the potential of every learner.

Thank you for your continued partnership.



Maggie Walker Executive Director Dr. Jeff McGee assembled the school’s student advisory committee and facilitated a meeting with GCPS Superintendent James Lane and GCPS School Board member and chairman of the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School Board Kevin Hazzard. Students had the opportunity to interact directly with leaders and provide their own unique perspectives regarding issues that impact the Governor’s School and the total student population.

The GCPS Band Program recently hosted a significant regional competition at Goochland High School. More than two dozen area bands participated in the event, one highlighted by outstanding ratings for our scholar-performers.

Randolph Elementary School’s 5th Grade Band, Andrew Snead (Director) – left

Mr. Jay Sykes commented, “I am proud to report that the GMS Concert Band received the highest rating possible of straight ‘superiors’ across the board. Each of the judges for the prepared portion rated the band ‘superior’ which is a 1. The sight reading evaluators also rated the band ‘superior’ … straight 1′s, which is the highest score you can achieve! Not only did your GMS band receive straight 1′s, but they also hosted this very large event. About 780 band students and 400 band parents traveled to GMS/GHS for the competition. These kids made me very proud this weekend on and off of the stage! I am a very proud teacher and am very blessed to work with such a fine group of students!”

Mr. Andrew Snead added, “The 5th grade band pilot program at RES has been wonderful for the students, their families, and the entire school community. There are many elementary band programs in Virginia, but very few participate in Concert Band Assessment, only three last year. To earn an ‘excellent’ rating with such a young group is truly a testament to the incredible efforts of the students and the support they have received from administrators, band directors, teachers, classmates, secondary students, and their families.”

Congratulations to all involved.

I’m excited to share that the Goochland Education Foundation (GEF) has become a Rassawek affiliate this year for the Rassawek Spring Jubilee. This event will be held during the weekend of June 7 and June 8 in Columbia, VA (western Goochland) at the Rassawek Vineyards.

GEF will receive 25% of the ticket sales purchased

IN ADVANCE through this link

It is important to be aware that only tickets purchased through this specific link and in advance will benefit GEF. If you are interested in attending this wonderful event, please consider obtaining your tickets using the link above in advance.

The Rassawek  Spring Jubilee is a unique, family-friendly celebration of the art of Virginia crafts: art, music & food. The two day festival is a regional event to showcase the talents and treasures located in and around Goochland and surrounding counties.

On Saturday our newly formed Technology Student Association chapters at GMS competed in a flight challenge and a Career Preparation challenge.  We have been preparing for these competitions since October and even with missing many meetings due to inclement weather the students put in the extra time needed to get the job done.  TSA is an extremely competitive organization and for our first year I was very pleased with our results.

Austin Payne placed 3rd in this competition earning a spot to compete at Technosphere, the Virginia TSA State Competition that will be held a the Richmond Convention Center May 2-4, 2014.

The flight challenge was tough this year and had over 20 entries.  To compete in the Flight challenge students must design and construct a balsa wood glider and prepare a notebook with general information about their glider.  Our students gave it their best and Austin Payne finished 7th, Connor Speight finished 9th and Hunter Clark placed 10th.  James DeLoach also competed in the flight competition and probably built the best glider there.  Unfortunately, during testing that day, some parts broke that affected his glider’s performance and knocked him out of the top ten ranking.

All of these students worked very hard and will continue to work hard as we prepare for our next competitive event in May.  Also, big thanks to their families for supporting our TSA chapter and spending most of their Saturday with us at Glen Allen High School.

Austin Payne, GMS

GCPS Staff and Community,

We are writing to share an update regarding our need for make-up days because we have missed a total of 16 days of school this year due to inclement weather.  We know this extraordinary number of absences has been frustrating for many due to the need to change family and work schedules.  Please believe me when I say that we value and believe in the impact of the instructional experiences that we provide every day.  I promise no one wants us to be in school every scheduled day more than me!  We spend a great deal of time assessing each situation individually and are committed to the safety of every child, yet we try to balance our decisions with the needs of working parents and with a recognition that our schools guarantee a warm environment and a full meal every day for some of our children.  We never take a decision to close schools lightly.  Let’s all hope the inclement weather is behind us.

Since my last blog post on this topic, we have missed six more days of school (total of 16) and will be required by state law and VDOE regulations to schedule more make-up days.  The state law has a very specific formula for how to make-up days if the schools cannot reach 990 hours of instruction; however, I plan to make a recommendation to the school board tomorrow evening to make-up missed time to be certain that all of our schools have a minimum of 990 hours of instruction this year.  Even if we were not required to make-up the time, my recommendation would be similar as our principals have shared with me that many classes will need additional time to complete the curriculum.

I will send a letter home to every family by the end of the week after the board acts on a solution tomorrow evening, but I wanted to take a moment to explain the rationale for my recommendation.  Below I will provide two documents that will show how the snow days have impacted all 5 schools, but will use Goochland Elementary School as the example for this blog post since it is the school that is required to make-up the most time.  My recommendation, though, will have impacts on all five schools.

The GES school day (after removing 0.75 hours per day of non-instructional time such as recess and lunch) is 5.75 hours per day starting at 8:20 every day and ending at 2:50.  When multiplied by 180 school days, we have 1,035 hours built into our calendar for GES (you will see in the document below that GMS and GHS are significantly higher and would not require additional days to meet the 990 hour rule).  Due to the 16 missed days of instruction, we have lost 87 hours of instruction.  Additionally, we have had five 2-hour delays and two 2-hour early release days, thus we must subtract 14 more hours of instruction.  If we do not miss any more days and did not do any make-up days, GES would have 929 hours of instruction this year.  We have already scheduled two make-up days on February 17 and March 21, earning us 11.5 hours back for a total of 940.5.

One of the recommendations I plan to make to the board is to add five more school days to our calendar this year during the first week of June, moving our last day of school to June 6.  At GES, this will add another 28.75 hours for a total of 969.25 hours.  The school board also has the option to do the five make-up days over Spring Break.

Obviously, we are still not at our required 990 hours.  Rather than do any additional make-up days, we plan to ask our elementary schools to add time to the end of the day to make-up the difference.  We would like to see all of our elementary schools start and stop at the same times, thus if approved, beginning March 21, we are recommending that all elementary schools start at 8:20 and end at 3:15.  We are also going to have to eliminate all early release days for the rest of the year at elementary schools (i.e. the last day of school), while maintaining the early release at GMS/GHS during the last week of exams.  To avoid this issue in the future, we are also asking the school board to consider making these times at the elementary schools permanent.  By adding this additional time every day, GES will add 22.5 hours of instruction, for a total of 991.75 hours (allowing us to be in compliance with the 990 rule).

We have heard from many folks that they are concerned about extending the school year because of a lack of instructional focus after SOLs, so for this reason, we will also move our testing calendar back one week.  The weekend of high school graduation will remain the same for Seniors (even though the time/date could move one or two days forwards or backwards due to a new scheduling conflict with John Paul Jones Arena, but our principal is speaking with Seniors and families and this is not for certain yet, but we will let you know ASAP!!).  We will likely waive the additional week for graduating seniors only, but those details will be determined in coordination with the high school administration.  Once we receive final details from JPJ, we will make a date recommendation to the school board, hopefully tomorrow evening.

A few people have also asked me about the 140 clock hour rule for high school verified credit courses (those with SOL tests).  School Board Policy IKF-R allows me to waive this requirement if our principals can submit the evidence of equivalent instruction detailed in the policy.  We feel confident that we will be able to waive the 140 clock hour requirement for all verified credit courses this year, but will continue to monitor these courses with our principals.

Here are two documents that show our thinking:

Lastly, we feel it is prudent to move our MP3 (Marking Period 3 and/or 3rd Quarter) report card dates and our proposal is below:

I know this is a lot of information, but we wanted to provide as much detail as possible.  Please do not hesitate to contact me directly or any of our principals or central office staff members for more detail.

We recognize the hardship this additional week could place on families that have already made travel plans for the first week of June (we certainly considered this in making our determination to avoid Spring Break).  Whereas we cannot excuse all absences, we will work with families and staff members during this additional week and try to be as flexible as possible when presented with good reasons for absence.

Lastly, if we have to miss any more days and/or have a series of delayed openings due to additional inclement weather, please know that we will have to consider further make-up days or extended school days.

Again, we thank you for your understanding and patience.  Many school divisions are in the “same boat” as we are and are having to make difficult decisions as well, but we value our instructional time and know that we can end the school year with continued enthusiasm.  Even with the missed time thus far, this has been one of the best school years of my career and I continue to be amazed at the creativity and resilience of our staff and students.


Randolph Elementary School will host its second annual Diversity Day next Friday, March 21. Students will “travel” across Europe and Asia in five rotations. Each third grade classroom hosts a different country that would have been teh subject of student study in teh previous two years.

Students will experience the cultures, both ancient and modern, unique to each country through an exploration of the food, music, clothing and traditions.