Budget season has begun! I am in the midst of collecting feedback to help me prepare my upcoming budget request. Again this year, I am seeking your perspective regarding ideas that you may have for budget initiatives as well as opportunities for efficiency. Please take a moment to share your thoughts with me via this survey. I welcome your thoughts, comments, and perspective. Results of this survey will be shared with the School Board at their upcoming meeting on November 12, 2019.
Author: Jeremy Raley
Now that our new school year is in full swing, it is time for us to make preparations for the approval of our division’s future instructional calendars. Since August, I have been working in collaboration with members of our administrative team to discuss potential drafts. Yesterday, I shared these drafts with my Superintendent’s Leadership Team, consisting of parents and teachers from each of our five schools. Like past and current calendars, the focus of these future draft calendars is on our instructional goal to maximize each student’s academic potential through engaging experiences and deeper learning.
Although there are some very minor differences in each version, each calendar follows a similar structure to that of our current calendar. Highlights of each of the three calendars include:
- First day of school two weeks prior to Labor Day
- Periodic breaks throughout the year for teacher professional days aligned with interim reports and the end of the nine weeks grading period
- One designated fall parent conference day
- No school on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving
- Full two weeks of winter break
- Spring break during the first full week of April to align with neighboring school divisions
- Early dismissal on the last day before winter break and the last day of school
- 180 instructional days for students
- Designated make up days if needed
Please take a moment to review the drafts for the next three school years.
Keep in mind that these calendars truly are drafts. Please feel free to send me a message, give me a call, or stop me when you see me opening cars in the morning or at our many different school events. I welcome your thoughts and comments. It is my goal to provide the School Board with my recommendation for their consideration at their meeting on November 12, 2019. No action will be taken until the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting on December 10, 2019.
Tonight, is the first home varsity football game of the 2019 season. Our football team and our marching band will have the pleasure of performing for the first time in their new band uniforms on our newly renovated field. Cheerleaders will be encouraging our Bulldogs while standing on a new track surface. Tonight is going to be a special night in so many ways!
There is something special about a Friday night home football game under the lights! Home football games in small communities like ours provide the opportunity for us to see friends and neighbors that we have not seen in a while, catch up with classmates, and to put our unified support behind our Bulldogs who have been working all summer to showcase their talents.
Thank you to the coaches, parents, volunteers, custodians, administrators, and maintenance staff who have dedicated countless hours to get ready for our Bulldog’s home debut tonight. Thank you to our School Board and Board of Supervisors who have funded and supported these needed renovations to Bulldog Stadium! Thank you to the Goochland High School Band and Athletic Boosters for the abundant support of time and additional financial resources to provide what our students need to be successful. The support that our school division receives through our community’s investment of time, talent, and resources is why we are continually recognized as one of the premier school divisions in the Commonwealth!
I am hoping for a large crowd tonight! It’s going to be a picture perfect Fall evening perfect for football! Go Bulldogs!
- Thursday October 17 – GHS/GMS Secondary Complex – 3250 River Road W.
- Tuesday October 22 – Hadensville Fire House – Company 6 – 4810 Three Chopt Road
- Tuesday October 29 – Goochland Rec Center – 2415 Sandy Hook Road
- Wednesday November 6 – Randolph Elementary School – 1552 Sheppard Town Road
- Thursday November 14 – Byrd Elementary School – 2704 Hadensville-Fife Road
John Budesky, Goochland County Administrator, recently announced the county’s 10 Steps to Broadband Internet Initiatives. One of these initiatives includes the creation of a dedicated webpage to serve as a broadband internet resource with updates on the county’s progress, contact information for providers, and an interactive form to report broadband and cellular issues.
Our school division is collaborating with the county on this initiative. In addition to the access that is provided free of charge for Kajeet hotspot devices through a grant funded by the Goochland Education Foundation, qualifying families who reside within Comcast service area may be able to access low cost internet services. For more information about this potential opportunity, click here:
Please share this opportunity with students, neighbors, friends, and families who you feel may be interested.
As our division begins the planning process to build a new Goochland Elementary School in the coming years, I wanted to extend an invitation to you to attend a community meeting regarding our school division’s request for a conditional use permit, as required by Goochland County, for the construction of a the new Goochland Elementary School to be situated on the property located at the corner of Bulldog Way and Steeplechase Parkway near the intersection of Bulldog Way and Sandy Hook Road.
Plans are to begin construction in the summer of 2022 and to open the new school for the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year. Road improvements are proposed to accompany the construction of the school to facilitate additional traffic. The community meeting to discuss our school division’s request to build the new Goochland Elementary School on this site will be held on Tuesday September 24 at 6:30 p.m in the cafeteria at Goochland Elementary School. This meeting is open to the public. School division and other county staff will be available to answer any questions attendees may have. At this meeting, we will have copies of the plan and visuals for all to review.
The focus of the meeting on September 24 will be on our request for a Condition Use Permit. This is the first of many steps that we will take as we prepare to open our new school in five years. As a part of the ongoing planning process, our future work will involve us partnering with our community to engage in a transparent process to conduct school boundary adjustments in order to reduce overcrowding at other elementary schools. No timeline for this process has been established at this time. When this process is formalized, we will be sure to provide notice to our community using multiple methods as we will be eager to engage as many parents, citizens, and interested parties in the process as possible.
I hope that you are able to join us as we begin this exciting journey!
It is hard to believe that we have successfully completed our first week of school! Even though classes have only been in session for five days, our students are actively involved in many different engaging lessons in their classrooms. It did not take us long to get back into the swing of things! Classroom routines were established early and students are becoming more and more familiar with their new schedules, procedures, and expectations.
As I visit classrooms across the division, I continue to be impressed by the work that is taking place! In addition to my visits, I’ve seen many posts on social media from our staff that show how our talented teachers strive every day to provide our students with an exceptional academic experience! Take a look at some of the pictures from our first week:
Our school division continues to excel in many ways!
Our proud tradition of excellence was affirmed by the recent release of assessment results by the Virginia Department of Education. Goochland County Public Schools Standards of Learning (SOL) performance exceeds the SOL performance of students across the state in every subject area! As a school division, our approach to academics is much more than performance on a singular measure. Our focus will continue to be on student growth using an instructional approach that provides students with opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of their content in ways that provide connections to authentic experiences in the world outside of school.
This week, we received notification that we earned a PERFECT score on the Virginia Department of Education Annual Special Education Performance Report! We met expectations on ALL 40 indicators! This is just another example of the excellence of our school division! Many thanks to Jennifer Waggener, our Executive Director for Exceptional Education, our special education teachers, our regular education teachers, our instructional assistants, and our administrative team for making this possible! In Goochland, we truly maximize the potential of EVERY learner!
I have enjoyed greeting our parents and students in the morning at all of our campuses. It’s great to see everyone again! As you see me at events and activities this year, please stop by to say hello. I’d love to hear about how the school year is going!
If you do not already do so, please like our facebook page and follow us on twitter (@glndschools) and instagram (@goochlandschools). Additionally, please stay up to date with all of the great things happening in our schools through our division leadership blog: http://leadership.goochlandschools.org. We have had a great first week of school! I’m looking forward to week two!
Jeremy Raley, Superintendent
As we prepare for the excitement and anticipation of another excellent school year, I know that the recent tragedies in both El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio are on your mind. These unfortunate events prompt questions from all of us-parents, teachers, students, and everyone in our Goochland Family. Over the course of the past 18 months, we have worked aggressively to implement new security measures, train, plan, and hire new personnel to enhance safety and security across the division. We have taken measures at every level to ensure that our students are safe and that we are able to respond in the event of an incident that threatens our safety, whether from natural causes due to weather, threats made electronically, or an incident of violence inside our schools or on our campuses. Please be assured that the safety and well-being of our students and our staff is, and will continue to be, a priority for school division.
I wanted to provide you with an update on the work that we have been doing this summer to make continued improvements in safety, building security, and crisis planning.
Last year, with the support of the Goochland Sheriff’s Office, we had two full time School Resource Officers at the secondary complex. Additionally, other deputies from the Sheriff’s Office made periodic, random visits to our elementary schools. This level of staffing and support from the Sheriff’s Office will continue again this year. Our School Security Officer, Mr. Shawn Schwartz, will be on the secondary campus to assist in supervision, crisis planning, and overall school security efforts. This year, in an effort to provide additional socio-emotional support to our students and our families, we have created a new position. Ms. Allison Mears will serve as our division’s Licensed Mental Health Counselor. In addition to providing direct support to students, she will serve as a resource for administrators and teachers who are seeking strategies to meet the needs of students.
Infrastructure and Capital Improvements
Last year, we made significant improvements to our facilities, including 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. Enhancements were also made to our communication system at Goochland Middle School. In an effort to improve communication in the event of a crisis, new phones have been installed in every classroom across the division. These devices will now allow every teacher to communicate quickly with building administrators or emergency dispatchers. The installation of these devices will also provide additional features that our administrators can use if needed in an emergency.
This summer, our administrative team attended a two day training with the Department of Homeland Security. The focus of this training was on proactive planning, response during an event, and subsequent recovery. Our two school resource officers and staff from Goochland County Fire-Rescue and Emergency Services also participated in this training.
Our collaborative efforts to plan and train with our local first responders was not just isolated to this two day training. At the end of June, we worked in partnership with both the Sheriff’s Office, Fire-Rescue & Emergency Services, and the Virginia EMS Training Group to conduct exercises that simulated an active shooting event in our high school. Lessons learned from this experience will most certainly improve our proactive planning and response.
Perhaps the most important part of safety is one that does not come in the form of training, technology, or devices. A critical part of our safety and security planning is the relationships that our staff have with our students and their families. For every tragedy that has taken place in America’s schools, hundreds more have surely been prevented because of staff members who are committed to knowing students and showing they care. Having a culture of support in our division, a culture in which our students and families know that they can reach out to us with any concern, is one of our most effective measures to ensure safety. Please discuss with your child the importance of telling an adult if they ever feel threatened, witness threatening behavior, or have any concern about safety for themselves or others. We are always available to respond. Please also know that we welcome reports from parents and community members as well. Call our school counselors or principals at any time if you have any concerns.
If you are not comfortable sharing this information with us, please know that you can provide us with an ANONYMOUS report. Again this year, we will continue to utilize our ANONYMOUS reporting system that will allow students, parents, citizens, and staff to report threats, bullying, or other safety concerns. Reports can be received via text message, web site, e-mail, or phone.
Additionally, we will continue training this year for our staff, our students, and our parents regarding our threat assessment process. The website for the threat assessment program for parents/guardians is www.schoolthreatassessment.com Enter the parent code to begin: pncwub
When school starts on August 19, there will be a lot more traffic on the roads compared to what we have experienced during summer break. In addition to our school buses, cars, and vans, there will be inexperienced student drivers driving to school for the first time. As you plan for your morning and afternoon commute, please be mindful of this additional traffic as well as our students who will be standing and waiting for their bus at their bus stops.
This year, we will begin to enforce the ordinance that was adopted by the Goochland County Board of Supervisors in June of this past year that permits our school division to levy a $250 fine when a motorist passes a bus while it is stopped and its red lights are flashing. We have installed cameras on the exterior and on the front windshield of buses on seven different routes to help us to enforce the laws that prevent passing our buses. The sole intent of this initiative is to keep our students safe. Please pay careful attention to our buses when you are on the road.
I know, as a parent and as an educator, that no list of processes, cameras, or devices is ever enough to make us 100 percent confident that we will always be able to avoid the threat of school violence. It would be unwise to ever assume that our safety is 100% guaranteed. We must always work to adapt and to prepare for the worst, no matter how great our division is. Please continue to keep the families that have been affected by the events in El Paso and Dayton in your thoughts and prayers. Take the time to talk to your child about it as you feel is best for your family. Thank you, as always, for what you do to support our students and our amazing school division.
Jeremy Raley, Superintendent
Governor Northam Awards High School Innovation Planning Grants
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced the award of high school innovation grants to thirteen school divisions to develop or implement programs that promote Virginia’s 5 C’s: critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship while preparing students for careers and postsecondary education. The grants are for the 2019-2020 school year. Eight school divisions received initial planning grants, while five divisions were awarded funding to support implementation this fall of previously planned innovative programs.
“Modernizing instructional approaches in our schools helps to improve educational outcomes and adapt to the needs of a 21st-century economy,” said Governor Northam. “These grants will allow our teachers to design innovative programs that pair classroom learning with the professional skills and experiences required for success after high school, regardless of whether Virginia students are college bound or plan to enter the workforce.”
Buchanan County, Fauquier County, Franklin County, and Goochland County will each receive $50,000 first-year innovation planning grants. Charles City County, Halifax County, Henrico County, and Mecklenburg County will share a fifth $50,000 grant. The proposed innovative high school programs are as follows:
- Buchanan County — Buchanan County will develop a high school curriculum incorporating blended, multidisciplinary courses and career-exploration opportunities, including job shadowing and internships. Project-oriented instruction at all county high schools and the Buchanan County Career, Technology & Higher Learning Center will fuse the arts, social sciences, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), writing and research, and community service.
- Design Virginia High School Innovation Network (Halifax, Henrico, Mecklenburg, and Charles City counties) — Network divisions will focus on college, career, and community readiness to prepare students for post-secondary experiences. Innovations include integrating instruction in multiple content areas with practical application and providing internships and apprenticeships for students in the following high schools: Halifax County High in Halifax County; Bluestone High and Park View High in Mecklenburg County; Charles City High in Charles City County; and Highland Springs High and J.R. Tucker High in Henrico County.
- Goochland County — Goochland County will develop a project-based, interdisciplinary program at Goochland High to give students an individualized approach to learning through career and technical education academies focusing on health and public safety, communications, agricultural and natural resources, STEM, business and marketing, and manufacturing and construction. Planned innovations include competency-based assessment of student progress, virtualization of student learning, and senior capstone projects.
- Fauquier County — Fauquier County will provide teachers at Liberty High with autonomy to present interdisciplinary instruction affording students opportunities to apply content knowledge through authentic, real-world projects. Students will take part in a school wide service-learning project and forge strong community and higher education partnerships connecting juniors and seniors with mentors to ensure engagement.
- Franklin County — Franklin County will create personalized competency-based learning environments at Franklin County High to allow for accelerated completion of state graduation requirements through virtual classes, integrated instruction, and flexible scheduling. The planned innovations include a health science career pathway as a model for future additional career pathways.
“I congratulate these divisions for their vision in designing innovative programs to prepare students for successful transitions from high school to college or the workforce,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. “I also want to thank the businesses in these communities for their willingness to partner with schools and open their doors to students. This type of collaboration will ensure that our students will have readily accessible opportunities to align their skills and personal interests by exploring career paths and work-based learning experiences that prepare them for a successful future beyond high school.”
Fairfax County, Louisa County, Manassas Park, Radford, and Rockbridge County were each awarded $50,000 high school program implementation grants as follows:
- Fairfax County — Justice High will implement a curriculum to meet the instructional needs of English learners with little formal education while providing these students with opportunities for mentoring, career exploration, and internships. The instructional program focuses on literacy, numeracy, and workforce readiness.
- Louisa County — Louisa County High’s Make a Difference Project will create three pathways for students to enter the teaching profession. Participants will have opportunities to work directly with students (ages 3-5) in the Little Lions Learning Lab, which is housed on the high school campus. Participating Louisa High students will also have the opportunity to complete college credit courses and earn child development credentials.
- Manassas Park — Manassas Park High will expand and streamline several existing programs to improve outcomes for English learners and students with little formal education. Through its Creative Opportunities at Manassas Park to Achieve Student Success program, students who otherwise might not graduate or acquire English and other foundational skills necessary for success after high school will have customized pathways for achieving their educational and employment goals.
- Radford — Radford High will continue its three-year transformation from a traditional secondary school into an integrated program that combines core academics with STEM, career and technical education, and training in cybersecurity. The program emphasizes inquiry-based learning and real-world experiences to engage students and promote 21st-century skills, such as collaboration and creativity.
- Rockbridge County — Rockbridge County High will implement the Solutions STEM Academy offering students career paths in 21st-century agriculture, energy and power, and environmental technology. The academy will feature flexible scheduling and emphasize problem solving, cross-curricular and project-based learning, and teamwork.
“Virginia is leading the way in transforming the high school experience,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “These grants will help students receive relevant instruction and experiences that expose them to in-demand field and equip them to succeed after graduation,”
The 2018 General Assembly authorized up to $500,000 in competitive grants in 2019 for school divisions to plan high school program innovations approved by the Virginia Department of Education, or to implement previously approved plans. The legislature defined the essential elements of high school program innovation as including the following: student centered learning, with progress based on proficiency; “real-world” connections aligned with local workforce needs and emphasizing transitions to college or career or both; and varying models for educator supports and staffing.
It is hard to believe that we have been out of school for seven weeks! Summer is flying by! In just over three weeks, we will begin the 2019-2020 school year, and we are working feverishly to make preparations for the start of another successful year.
GCPS Continues to Lead the Way
Team Goochland continues to shine as leaders in the Commonwealth and on a national level. Earlier this summer, Dr. Andy Armstrong, our Executive Director for Business Operations, gave a presentation at the Virginia is for Learners Education Equity Summer Institute regarding his research associated with equity and the Advanced Placement (AP) high school exam. At the Virginia School Boards Association’s Conference on Education this week, Dr. Steve Geyer, Assistant Superintendent, and I shared our division’s work to assess student learning through a balanced approach that focuses on growth over achievement and utilizes authentic performance measures in addition to traditional assessments to gauge student learning Dr. Armstrong also shared his research at this conference. Additionally, Dr. John Hendron, our division’s Director of Innovation and Strategy, spent several days honing his skills as an Apple Distinguished Educator at an event held last week in Maryland.
Learning does not stop during the summer. Through a variety of programs this year, we have worked to keep students engaged in their academic experience. In addition to STEM Camp, we added another enrichment experience for our students: Fine Arts Camp. Elementary students had the opportunity to experience the arts in a variety of ways, including the performing arts, visual arts, and musical arts.
Our elementary summer school students experienced a project based approach that supported core content with engaging activities. This allowed students to learn by being actively involved in their academic experience-a far cry from what most of us think about when we hear the words “summer school”.
Students in the middle school applied what they learned during a community service day to give back to the community that has provided so much support to us. A re-imagined program at the high school, including a blended approach of teacher directed and virtual instruction, resulted in tremendous success rates. I am proud of our students who have put forth tremendous effort this summer! Thank you, also, to our dedicated staff for seeking strategies to provide our students with a deeper and richer academic experience this summer!
Sunshine Food Bus
Our Sunshine Food Bus continues to serve healthy lunches to students and adults throughout our community. In addition to receiving a meal, students are given a book of their own. I had the pleasure of riding along with our dedicated food service team this past week. I got to see many of our students and also had the chance to meet many of our citizens. There is a perception that the meals are provided only to students who may qualify for free or reduced price meals during the year. This is FALSE. ANY child up to the age of 18 can receive a FREE meal AND a book from the food bus. The price of an adult meal is only $3 – a great healthy option for parents, grandparents, and caregivers! We will be running until August 2. Check out the schedule and stop by!
This summer, our athletic department, in collaboration with our facilities and maintenance team, have been working on making improvements to the playing surfaces and playing conditions for our student athletes. At Goochland High School, the football and soccer field has been re-crowned (to assist with drainage) and a new irrigation system has been installed. New bermuda grass sprigs have been planted. Although the picture shows a brown field, it is now nice and green!
A bermuda playing surface has also been installed on the softball field, with the installation of drainage to follow. The old track surface has been removed and repairs are currently being made to the asphalt. The new track surface will be installed and ready for the track season in the Spring. From a safety perspective, preparations are being made at Byrd Elementary School to install a generator that will power the entire school should in the event that there is a power failure.
There is a lot of work that takes place as we close one school year and open another. Our custodians and maintenance staff are beautifying our halls and campuses, while our administrative staff makes final staffing, scheduling, and programmatic decisions. Thank you to all of our talented employees for the work that you do to ensure that everything will be ready for our teachers and students in August.
As you start to think about the first day of school, please take a moment to confirm your child’s bus route. Routes for this coming year will be posted in PowerSchool by noon on Thursday, August 8. PowerSchool allows parents to update their contact information for school and division communications, view attendance and grade information, and view bus information. Visit PowerSchool to log in. If you don’t remember your login or password, click on the forgot login or forgot password links. If you have not created an account, contact your child’s school office for the access id and password to create it.
In addition to PowerSchool, hard copy letters of bus routes and stop information will be mailed, but only to all rising Preschool, Kindergarten, 6th, and 9th grade families on August 8th. These families can expect these letters to arrive a few days later via US mail. All other families will need to access PowerSchool or contact their child’s school after August 8 to access bus number and stop information.
Transportation information for both rising 6th grade orientation at GMS and rising 9th grade orientation at GHS will be communicated to those families in the weeks ahead. Families who wish to request an alternate bus stop for their child because they will be picked up at or getting off of a stop that is not their home address (grandparent, baby sitter, etc.) must apply using this link no later than August 2: Transportation Alternative Stop Request.
As a part of our division’s ongoing safety initiatives, we will begin to enforce the ordinance that was adopted by the Goochland County Board of Supervisors in June of this past year that permits our school division to levy a fine when a motorist passes a bus while it is stopped and its red lights are flashing. We have installed cameras on the exterior and on the front windshield of buses on selected routes will help us to enforce the laws that prevent passing our buses. The sole intent of this initiative is to keep our students safe. I appreciate your attention to our buses while on the road.
This summer, the Goochland County School Board adopted two different policies that I want to bring to your attention. During the 2019 General Assembly session, House Bill 2384 and Senate Bill 1295 were passed, requiring all School Boards in the Commonwealth to develop and implement a policy that prohibits the use and distribution of tobacco products and nicotine products on school property and at an off-site school sponsored activities where students are present. This law and associated School Board Policy (GBEC/JFCH) approved by our Board in June applies to everyone, everywhere on campus, at all times, including school events after regular school hours. I wanted to provide you with advanced notice in case you need to plan accordingly for attending upcoming events this Fall.
In an effort to improve student attendance, the School Board also approved a revision to Policy JED. This revision to our attendance policy provides the option for a school administrator to implement an attendance improvement plan following a student’s 10th absence, even if the absences have been marked as excused. Following the 10th absence the school may require families to provide a note from a professional outlining the reasons for the student’s absence from school.
Mark Your Calendars
Mark your calendars for the many different events that will be taking place as we prepare for the start of school:
- School Board Meeting: August 13 at 5:30 p.m.
- Rising 6th Grade Parent Night: August 12 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- 9th Grade Orientation: August 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- 6th Grade Orientation (Eagle Evolution): August 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Preschool and Kindergarten Orientation: August 15 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Back to School Night for ALL Schools: August 15 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- First Day of School” August 19
I am excited about the start of another year! Please keep up with all that is happening in our division by following us on Facebook, Twitter (@glndschools) and Instagram (@goochlandschools). Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Jeremy Raley, Superintendent