We have had a fantastic start to our new year! It’s hard to believe that we have already been in school for ten days! Today, I visited Randolph Elementary and used our 360 degree camera to provide a glimpse into a day in the life of our students and staff. When watching this video, use your mouse (or your fingers on your phone) to pan around to see different views within the classroom.

I am proud of our students and staff for all of the work that they do to provide our students with an exceptional academic experience!  Thanks to our students, staff, families, and supportive community for a very smooth opening to this school year!

Wishing you a restful and relaxing Labor Day Holiday!

 

As one of many steps we are taking to keep safety a top priority and to help safeguard our school community, we have implemented the SafeSchools alert system as an additional layer of communication to voice concerns about safety in our division.

The SafeSchools alert system provides several ways for our community to submit safety concerns to our leadership.  The SafeSchools alert system can be used anytime, but we continue to encourage our students and community to speak to an adult at your school to voice any concerns.  Remember to call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency or life-threatening danger.

Visit the website at glnd-va.safeschoolsalert.com to access links to submit safety concerns.  You can also submit a concern through the following formats:

  1. Phone:          804.424.5027
  2. Text:              Text your tip to 804.424.5027
  3. Email:            1730@alert1.us
  4. Web:               http://1730.alert1.us

You and your child can easily report tips on bullying, harassment, drugs, vandalism or any safety issue you’re concerned about through SafeSchools Alert. Every tip SafeSchools Alert receives about our district is immediately logged in the system and our administration is notified so that they can investigate and take appropriate action. And, tips may also be submitted anonymously if you prefer.

Together, using SafeSchools Alert, we can make our district a safer place to work and learn! Thanks in advance for your support.

In just over 12 hours, our students will be on their way to the first day of another school year.  Students and families alike will be experiencing a range of emotions as many will be excited to see their friends again and gain new experiences, while others will be anxious about new schedules, routines, and other unknowns associated with another academic year.  It is an opportunity for a new beginning and the possibilities that another year can provide.

This summer, our school division received recognition that has solidified our position as a leader in the Commonwealth.  Niche.com has rated our division as the 10th best school division in Virginia, 6th safest in the Commonwealth, and the #1 School Division in the Richmond Area!  The Virginia Department of Education also recognized our work, awarding us the Board of Education Distinguished Achievement Award for our student achievement in 2016-2017.  GCPS is one of only 15 divisions in the Commonwealth to receive this accolade!

These successes are the direct result of the contributions of our talented and dedicated employees, impressive students, engaged parents, and citizens who have made an investment of time and resources in Goochland’s future.  I am grateful for the outpouring of support that our community provides our school division. Team Goochland’s past and future success is the result of a community that values and understands the importance of education and the benefits that it can provide.

As you have visited our school campuses this past week for orientation activities, you have noticed that there have been some safety and cosmetic improvements at our facilities.  We have worked hard this summer to make some significant changes that will have an immediate impact including the installation of hardware and equipment to increase security, and significant landscaping at all facilities.  Floors have been waxed and shined. Hallways and classrooms have been painted.  Our custodians and maintenance team deserve a great deal of credit for all that they have done to provide a safe, clean, and welcoming environment for our students and staff.

I am also excited that we were able to eliminate the instructional fees that families have been charged in the past.  This reduction in instructional fees accompanied a reduction in the insurance fees for student ipads and laptops. We will continue to work to reduce the financial obligations placed on families for other fees that have been traditionally charged as we prepare our future budgets.  There have also been improvements in our transportation operations as we have installed active GPS on all of our vehicles that are transporting students. New buses will be on the road tomorrow with lights on the front and rear bumpers to alert motorists that buse have come to a stop.  

From an instructional standpoint, we will stay the course on our mission to maximize the potential of every learner.  Our team will continually seek opportunities to build on the strength of existing relationships that we have and seek opportunities to nurture those relationships that can be even stronger.  Our employees are focused on building positive relationships with our students, our colleagues, our students’ parents, their caregivers, and our community. There has never been a better time to reinforce the human side of our work and its foundational support of everything else we do, from coaching, mentoring, teaching, leading, and supporting our students.

It is an honor and privilege to serve as Superintendent of this awesome school division!  I believe that transparent, open, and two-way communication is critical to our school division’s ongoing success.  During the past two years, I have had the pleasure of meeting with and talking to many families, but there are still many of you whom I have not met.  I look forward to getting to know you, listening to your ideas, and discussing how we can work together to make an investment in our students’ future. As always, please feel free to give me a call, send me an e-mail, or stop me in the hallway when you see me.  Together, we form a partnership that will have a positive impact on the experiences that we provide for our students. The Goochland County Public Schools will continue to shine as we all work together in the best interest of all of our students!

 

Jeremy Raley, Superintendent

jraley@glnd.k12.va.us

804-556-5601

Facebook

Twitter:  @glndschools, @DrJRaley

Instagram:  @goochlandschools

Blog:  http://leadership.goochlandschools.org

  

 

This video introduced our 2018 Convocation Exercises, focused on “Relationships Matter.” With Dr. Geyer missing from the stage, Dr. Raley embarks on a misguided adventure to ensure convocation goes smoothly. Starring Jeremy Raley, Stephen Geyer, John Hendron, and Krystle Demas. Special thanks to Brent Rose, Goochland High School, for videography and editing. Produced and written by a team led by John Hendron. Special thanks go to our friends at Goochland Fire and Rescue and the Goochland County Sheriff’s Office.

 

The Goochland County Public School division was recently recognized by Niche.com among the top in several categories at both the regional and state level in their 2018 rankings, published last month at https://www.niche.com/k12/d/goochland-county-public-schools-va/   These ratings are based on a rigorous analysis of statistics as well as student and parent reviews for schools across the Commonwealth.  

Goochland’s distinctions in the 2018 rankings include:

  • #1 school division out of 17 in the Richmond region
  • #1 safest school division out of 17 in the Richmond region
  • #10 best school division in Virginia out of 132
  • #6 safest school division in Virginia out of 132

When determining a rating, Niche ranks various factors and weights different performance measures. The greatest weight is placed on an academic measure and is 50% of the rating. Culture & diversity, health & safety,  student & parent surveys, and teacher quality are each weighted at 10%. Resources & facilities are 5% of the overall assessment, while clubs, activities and sports are weighted at 2.5% each.

“Goochland County Public Schools is a proud and successful school division due to the efforts of our outstanding staff in all dimensions of our organization-teachers, leaders, staff,  students, parents, and the community that supports them,” said Dr. Jeremy Raley, Superintendent. “We are excited for this recognition and even more excited to continue to find ways to make the Goochland experience even better”

The recognition by Niche.com arrives after several recent GCPS recognitions, including the Virginia Board of Education Distinguished Achievement Award and the recent recognition of Mr. Jay Brockman as the Virginia middle school CTE teacher of the year.

As we prepare for the start of school next week, I am happy to announce the reduction or elimination of a number of school fees!  The School Board, during the budget process last winter, voted unanimously to make these changes in an effort to reduce the financial burden on our families.  School division funds will now be used to provide the materials and resources that were previously purchased through the collection of these student fees.

As a result, the $10 student activity fee previously charged at the beginning of the year has been eliminated for all students. The iPad insurance for 3rd through 8th graders has dropped from $30 to $20 for the school year. Likewise, the Macbook laptop insurance for high school students has been reduced from $50 to $30. Middle school band students are no longer required to pay an $8 fee and all high school Art and CTE students will no longer pay a fee to take these classes.

Dance, band, and choral classes have been given additional funding to replace some costumes, music, and instruments. Most optional and extra-curricular activity costs, such as club dues, gym uniforms, and team gear will remain the same as last year.  A comprehensive list of all approved fees can be found online or by calling each school’s office.  Please know that our online school payment process is now open.  Avoid the rush at Back to School Night by making payments online.  Remember that there is no cost to use this online system.

Enjoy your last week of vacation!  I look forward to seeing you on Back to School Night, this Thursday, from 4 to 8pm!

 

As we prepare to welcome our students back from summer vacation, I wanted to provide you with an update on the work that we have been doing this summer to make improvements in safety, building security, and crisis planning.  Enhancements have been made as we have hired additional staff, made improvements to our building infrastructure with the installation of equipment and other capital investments, and have implemented proactive processes through collaborative planning with the Goochland Sheriff’s Office and Goochland Fire-Rescue and Emergency Services.

Personnel

This year, with the support of the Goochland Sheriff’s Office, we will have two full time School Resource Officers at the secondary complex.  Deputy Ryan Leabough will be assigned to the high school and Deputy Jason Anderson will be assigned to the middle school. Additionally, our school division has hired a School Security Officer, Mr. Shawn Schwartz, who will be on campus to assist in supervision, crisis planning, and overall school security efforts.  Through an effort to provide additional socio-emotional support to our students and our families, we have re-structured our school counseling departments at both the middle school and the high school in order to ensure that counselors can spend more time focusing on providing more individualized support.

Infrastructure and Capital Improvements

We will be enhancing the physical security of our facilities through a three phase process that includes the installation of equipment that monitors door access, the installation of door position controls, re-keying all exterior locks, and installing cameras at all elementary schools.  The key card access will provide our division and the Goochland Sheriff’s Office with secure and dynamic facility access, allowing us to establish strict parameters on access and the ability to quickly secure facilities. Door position controls will be installed on exterior doors at all facilities, and will alert staff immediately in the event of an exterior door being left open.  The first phase of this project is expected to be completed at the secondary complex by the start of school. Phase I work has started at our elementary schools as technicians are running wire and conduit to minizime disruptions when school begins.

As you visit our campuses, you will find that there are many other safety improvements including a new parking lot and parent pick up loop at Byrd Elementary.  

Before and after picture of paving at Byrd Elementary School

This summer, we conducted a walk through of our facilities with representatives from the Sheriff’s Office and Fire-Rescue to determine if there were additional strategies that we could implement to make improvements to the safety and security of our sites.  Recommendations were made regarding changes to the landscaping at our secondary complex that will increase visibility of the parking lots from inside the school.  The large junipers in the front of the building reduced visibility and also provided a space for items to be concealed.  As a result, they have been removed and new, lower profile vegetation will be planted in their place.

New landscaping at secondary complex

At our middle and high school, a transaction window in the lobby area near the main entrance will be installed by the end of September.  This transaction window will allow our staff and families to more efficiently handle routine transactions at our schools-dropping off items for students, sign in and sign out-while reducing traffic in our office areas and thereby minimizing risk associated with individuals moving past the secure lobby areas of the middle and high schools.  We will continue to ask visitors and guests to announce who they are and the reason for their visit prior to being allowed entry to the building.

Being Proactive

Our safety and security initiatives also include many proactive processes, trainings, and procedures that have been developed in collaboration with our division’s administrative staff, local first responders, and members of our School Safety Task Force which includes stakeholders from our community including parents, citizens, and representatives from multiple agencies.  One of these initiatives includes training for our faculty, students, and parents regarding our threat assessment process. The website for the parent program is www.schoolthreatassessment.com Enter the parent code to begin:  pncwub

Other proactive measures that will implemented for the start of the school year include:

  • New anonymous reporting system for ALL schools regarding threats or bullying – reports can be received via text message, web site, e-mail, or phone
  • Revision of crisis drill processes
  • Update of school and division-wide crisis plans
  • Training for administrative staff on site surveys and incident command
  • Training for employees regarding treatment of injuries (bleed management) during a crisis
  • Initiatives to building positive, proactive relationships with students, families, and community

Transportation

In addition to the safety and security initiatives at our school sites, we have also made some significant improvements in the safety within our transportation department.  This year, for the first time ever, we will be able to monitor the location and speed of every bus and car that we have on the road. This active GPS monitoring will allow us to respond quickly to an emergency with specific GPS coordinates.  In addition to monitoring by our school division staff, officials in our county emergency operations center are able to access this information on all our vehicles that are transporting students.

When I speak to drivers, one of the safety issues that is most concerning to them is when motorists do not obey their red flashing lights when they are picking up and dropping off students.  We are currently working in collaboration with local law enforcement and our partners in county government to explore options that will allow us install cameras on the exterior of our buses and levy fines when motorist disobey our traffic signals.  New buses that we purchase in the future will have flashing lights on the front and rear bumper that will activate when drivers make a stop. We purchased four new 77 passenger buses this year with this feature. Check out one of these buses in action by clicking here.        

The safety and well-being of our students and our staff is, and will continue to be, a priority for our school division.  Engaged learning and the results our community has come to expect cannot take place without a safe and nurturing school environment.  I look forward to a smooth start to another exciting year for our students, staff, and families. Thank you, as always, for what you do to support our students and our amazing school division!

Jeremy Raley, Superintendent