As you know, this past Fall, I worked in collaboration with a variety of stakeholder groups including the Superintendent’s Leadership Team, comprised of teachers and parents, administrative staff, and our community, to create a multi-year instructional calendar that aligns with our strategic plan and our instructional philosophy.  I have worked to be transparent and inclusive in this process as multiple drafts have been shared through email, blogs, social media, and optional faculty meetings at each school.  Survey data has also been collected to gather feedback in this process.

As a result of all of this feedback, I have prepared a two year instructional calendar that I will be presenting to the Goochland County School Board for their review as an information item on their January 9, 2018 agenda.  Like this year, the focus of these calendars is on our core mission: teaching and learning.  Each calendar follows a similar structure to that of our current calendar to allow for ongoing breaks in instruction for our instructional team to grow and develop their professional skills.  Each version includes 193 teacher work days and 180 instructional days for students.  Additionally, each draft includes full instructional days prior to winter break and the end of the year to allow us to maximize instructional time and allow our teachers the professional autonomy and flexibility to assess students.  Make up days, if needed, are marked to facilitate future planning.  Like this year, each version maintains many of the traditional timelines for starting school, holiday breaks, and the last day of school that have been a part of past calendars.

In early December, I solicited feedback regarding a potential change in the schedule for our Spring Break.  There was overwhelming support to move our Spring Break to the first full week of April.  This is a change that will allow our employees and our families to align their break with public school systems in the Richmond metro region.  Additionally, each calendar recognizes Good Friday by having no evening activities or events scheduled.  Friday April 19, 2019, will be an early dismissal at 1:00 p.m.  The Monday following Easter is scheduled as a professional day for teachers; schools will be closed for students.

Highlights of each of the draft calendars are as follows:

2018-2019

  • First day of school – Monday, August 20, 2018
  • One parent conference day in October
  • Winter break begins on Friday, December 21, 2018 and ends on Sunday, January 6, 2019.  This is a two week break.  
  • Second semester begins on January 7, 2019
  • Spring Break – Monday, April 1, 2019 through Friday, April 5, 2019
  • Early dismissal on Friday, April 19, 2019; No School for Students on Monday, April 22, 2019
  • Last day of school – Wednesday, June 5, 2019

2019-2020

  • First day of school – Monday, August 19, 2019
  • One parent conference day in October
  • Winter break begins on Friday, December 20, 2019 and ends on Sunday, January 5, 2020.  This is a two week break.
  • Second semester begins on January 6, 2020
  • Spring Break – Monday, April 6, 2020 through Friday, April 10, 2020
  • No School for Students on Monday, April 13, 2020
  • Last day of school – Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Throughout this process, I have received feedback sharing multiple perspectives.  These recommendations are reflective of comments that I have heard from employees, parents, and our community and maintains a structure that will support our continued instructional success.  After my presentation on January 9, the School Board will be slated to take action at their regularly scheduled meeting on February 13.  I continue to welcome your thoughts and perspectives as we work to make a final decision on these calendars in the coming weeks.  

As we approach the new year, it is time for us to make preparations for the approval of our division’s instructional calendar.  This fall, I’ve been working in collaboration with the Superintendent’s Leadership Team, teachers, and administrative staff to create three years of instructional calendars that align with our strategic plan and our instructional philosophy.  Like this year, the focus of these calendars is on our core mission: teaching and learning.  Although there are some minor differences in each version, each calendar follows a similar structure to that of our current calendar to allow for ongoing breaks in instruction for our instructional team to develop their professional skills.  Each draft version includes 193 teacher work days and 180 instructional days for students.  Additionally, each draft includes full instructional days prior to winter break and the end of the year to allow us to maximize instructional time and allow for professional autonomy and flexibility to assess students.  Make up days, if needed, are marked to facilitate future planning.  Like this year, each version maintains many of the traditional timelines for starting school, holiday breaks, and the last day of school that have been a part of past calendars.

Highlights of each of the draft calendars are as follows:

2018-2019

  • Last day of school – Wednesday June 5, 2019
  • Spring Break – prior to Easter as it is late (April 21); No school for students after Spring Break on April 22 as it is a professional day for teachers.
  • Second semester begins on January 7, 2019
  • Winter break begins on Friday, December 21, 2018 and ends on Sunday January 6, 2019.  This is a two week break.  
  • One parent conference day in October
  • First day of school – Monday, August 20, 2018

2019-2020

  • Last day of school – Wednesday, June 3, 2020
  • Spring Break – after Easter; No school for students after Spring Break on April 20 as it is a professional day for teachers.
  • Second semester begins on January 6, 2020
  • Winter break begins on Friday, December 20, 2019 and ends on Sunday, January 5, 2020.  This is a two week break.  
  • One parent conference day in October
  • First day of school – Monday, August 19, 2019

2020-2021

  • Last day of school – Wednesday, June 9, 2021
  • Spring Break – after Easter; No school for students after Spring Break on April 12 as it is a professional day for teachers.
  • Second semester begins on January 4, 2021
  • Winter break begins on Friday, December 18, 2020 and ends on Sunday, January 4, 2021.  This is a two week break.  
  • One parent conference day in October
  • First day of school – Monday, August 24, 2020

Many school divisions in our region are moving toward instructional calendars with a Spring Break that will be during the first full week of April, rather than being scheduled around the Easter holiday.  School divisions who are discussing moving their Spring Break to the first week of April are also including the Monday after Easter as a day when students would not be in attendance.  Please take a moment to provide me with your feedback using this survey.

These calendars remain in draft form as I continue to receive feedback from parents and our community prior to making a recommendation to the School Board on January 9, 2018.  No action will be taken until the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting in February.  I continue to welcome your feedback via this survey, e-mail, phone or in person.

 

 

At a special called meeting on Monday, December 4, the Goochland County School Board concluded a transparent process of developing our school division’s long term facility master plan.  This process started in June 2017 and included substantial analysis of our school division’s student enrollment, facility conditions and capacity, and educational adequacy.  A crucial component of the work to develop this plan was the involvement of representative stakeholders from each geographic region of our community.    

During the School Board’s discussion and deliberation, they expressed their appreciation for the time that the committee has dedicated to the process, the level of analysis involved in their recommendation, and the perspective that they brought to the process.  The School Board supports the recommendation of the committee, a realistic expression of the school division’s needs based on credible data, that was presented to the Board of Supervisors on November 28 at the joint work session.

Within the framework of the steering committee’s recommendation, in order to assist the county with planning, the School Board prioritized the work that they felt must happen in the next five fiscal years (by FY 2023):

Construction of a new Goochland Elementary School on a new school site – 500 student capacity $22,040,000
Goochland High School/Goochland Middle School improvements: Career and Technical Education (CTE)/STEM addition (30,000 sq feet); Program and systems upgrades at secondary complex; Build auxiliary gym, wrestling room, and athletic fields $16,125,000
Total $38,165,000

 

There were multiple factors involved in the School Board’s decision:

  • These projects will have the most immediate impact to the greatest number of students from all geographic regions of our community.
  • The school with the poorest Facility Condition Index will be replaced.  At the same time, additional capacity will be added that will alleviate overcrowding at the division’s other elementary schools.
  • Improvements at Goochland High School and Goochland Middle School proactively address capacity issues, create program enhancements at the secondary complex, and will be of benefit to all students of Goochland County.

Byrd Elementary and Randolph Elementary projects were also prioritized as follows:

Construction of a new Byrd Elementary School on new school site – 400 student capacity – constructed between FY 2024 and FY 2028 $17,400,000 plus land (FY 2023 cost), estimated to escalate by 6% annually to $20.1M by the FY 2024-2028 timeframe
Construction of a new Randolph Elementary School on a new school site – 500 student capacity – constructed between FY 2029 and FY 2033 $22,010,000 plus land (FY2026 cost), estimated to escalate by 6% annually to $29.5M by the FY 2029-2033 timeframe

 

As a part of the deliberations on Monday, the School Board felt that delay of the Byrd and Randolph projects beyond the timeframe recommended by the steering committee would make new construction of Byrd on a new site the most economically reasonable plan .  Many factors were considered in this decision including equity, long term projected maintenance costs, difficulty of coordinating major construction on an active school site with limited septic capacity, limited flexibility for parking/construction access, and the impact that the delay would have on the facility condition and educational adequacy of the 1997 section of the building.  With this approach the Goochland community would have three new elementary schools by FY 2033.  Included in the long term cost of these projects is a 6% cost escalator referenced by our school division’s consultants as construction costs are expected to increase significantly in the future due to projected labor and materials costs.  

Thank you to the Goochland County Board of Supervisors for providing the financial support for the develop of our division’s long term facility master plan.  Through this process, we have received a substantial amount of enrollment and facility data that will allow us to make prudent fiscal decisions regarding our facilities in the future.  Deliberations on the School Board’s approved long term plan will continue in the coming weeks.  Now that the County has received this request from the School Board, the County Administrator will present his recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for the county’s overall  25 year Capital Improvement Plan.  The School Board’s projects will be a part of his presentation.  This presentation will take place on Monday December 11 at 3:00 p.m.

Next week on Tuesday December 12, the School Board will vote to approve its 25 year Capital Improvement that includes not only the projects in the long term facility master plan, but other division needs as well, including transportation.  This meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is also open to the public.
Following these meetings, the Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the 25 year plan presented by the County Administrator this Monday.  This public hearing will take place on Tuesday January 3.  The time of this meeting is yet to be determined.

 

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What do you think should be included in next year’s school division budget?  What can we do differently to save money so that those dollars can be spent on new ideas? Should we stop doing or change something so that we can start doing new things? Are there ways we could streamline our operations and be more efficient?
If you have an idea, we’d like to hear from you. It can be something you know that works at another school division, something that you’ve seen in another business, or an idea you’ve come up with that you think might help us do our jobs better and more efficiently.
We also want to know if there are new programs or expansions of current programs that you would like us to consider that would improve the instructional opportunities that we are able to provide for our students.
All suggestions are welcomed and will be considered. Please respond to this survey by Tuesday, December 5th, 2017, so that we can review them in time to report back to the school board on December 12, 2017 or you may consider attending the December 12th School Board meeting (6:30 pm, Goochland County Administration Building, Room 250) and make your comments publicly.  Click here to access this year’s budget survey.
Thanks in advance for sharing your ideas with us!

In the next seven weeks, the School Board will be working with the Goochland County Board of Supervisors to finalize its long term facility plan as a part of the County’s overall 25 year Capital Improvement Plan.  This work started last June and involved multiple representatives from our community in a transparent process that involved a great deal of data collection, analysis, and review.  At this point, the steering committee of community representatives has provided their recommendation to the School Board for consideration.  There will be several meetings that will be taking place between now and January 3 when the School Board’s plan and the County’s plan is expected to be finalized.

The dates, time, and locations of these public meetings follows:
November 28:  Joint work session with School Board and Board of Supervisors to discuss school division’s long term facility master plan and 25 year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP); 3:30 p.m.; Board Conference Room; County Administration Building
December 4:  School Board approval of their long term facility master plan and 25 year Capital Improvement Plan; 6:00 p.m.; Board Meeting Room, Room 250; County Administration Building
December 11:  Presentation of the County’s overall 25 year Capital Improvement Plan; 3:30 p.m.; Board Meeting Room, Room 250; County Administration Building
January 3:  Public Hearing on the County’s overall 25 year Capital Improvement Plan; 7:00 p.m; Board Meeting Room, Room 250; County Administration Building
All of these meetings are open to the public.

This year, during the week of November 13, schools and school divisions across the country will be celebrating American Education Week.  This week gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on what makes us proud to serve our community as members of the Goochland County School Board.  Our school division is recognized for excellence on many fronts: student performance, school safety, engaging instruction, financial management, balanced assessment, technology integration, community partnerships, and a commitment to innovation.  The achievements of our division are grounded in our strategic plan and would not be possible without the contributions of our dedicated employees and supportive community.

American Education Week marks a great opportunity to celebrate our schools, our students, and our team members.  It is also the perfect time to extend a special invitation to our families and community members to join us in our schools and see firsthand what makes our division so strong.

We are steadfastly focused on the quality of every student’s school experience.  We believe it should be engaging, relevant, and personalized.  On any given day in our schools, our talented and dedicated employees are providing students with exceptional academic experiences that are focused on providing them with the content knowledge and skills that will enable them to achieve future success.  We have teachers who give countless hours before school, after school, and on Saturdays to provide students with additional instruction to ensure their success.  We have a fine arts program that rivals those of divisions twice our size.  We have STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) programs recognized by the state of Virginia as models of school, community, and business collaboration.  

In Goochland, we have teachers who have organized their classrooms around Scrum, an innovative approach used in the business world to facilitate collaboration and engage participants toward the completion of a task.  We have team members who’ve partnered with state and national experts to develop student assessments that move past traditional multiple choice test items to important skills like communication, critical thinking, and creativity.  We have team members and community partners who’ve come together to provide our students with real world learning opportunities like internships, work site apprenticeships, and experiential learning at places like the Goochland Courthouse Green and Second Union Rosenwald School Museum.

We also have a talented and dedicated support staff of team members whose work is often behind-the-scenes, but without their attention to detail and focus on excellence would not allow our school division to shine.  It is the contributions of all of our Team that has allowed us to perform at this high level.  During this week of national attention on education we want to thank everyone who gives of themselves to make Goochland County Public Schools a school division of excellence.

Beth Hardy, Chair, District 4 John Wright, Vice Chair, District 5 Mike Payne, District 1 Kevin Hazzard, District 2 John Lumpkins, District 3

 

Now that the leaves have fallen from the trees and there is a chill in the air, we are definitely in the midst of autumn.  With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many of us are thinking about the arrangements that we need to make for travel, meals, and visiting guests.  Thanksgiving is definitely a time for us to pause and give thanks for our many blessings.  It is a time for us to share our gratitude with others and reflect on life’s simple pleasures.

This week during American Education Week, I want to pause to give thanks for you.  In the words of former President John F. Kennedy, “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”  For over a year, it has been a true pleasure having the opportunity to serve alongside you as we strive to accomplish our school division’s mission.  I have witnessed on many occasions the amazing opportunities and experiences that you provide our students inside and outside of the classroom.  You have spent countless hours at night and on weekends, giving of your time, talents, and financial resources to ensure that all of our students have access to the resources that they need in order to be successful.

I am proud of your optimism and your devotion to maximize the potential of every single one of our learners!  You believe in our students, share resources, and collaborate to ensure each student’s success!  Our instructional staff are leaders and masters at your craft and demonstrate great skill in the art of providing students with engaging experiences that are relevant and geared toward preparing them to be global citizens.  At the same time, our support team faithfully provides the resources and environment that allows innovation and excellence to happen in our classrooms.

Earlier this month, I attended a professional development activity with instructional staff from other school divisions.  As I listened to conversations among these colleagues, it reinforced for me the exceptional work that we are doing in Goochland to prepare our students for future success.  This experience only strengthened my unwavering belief that the Goochland County Public Schools has the best teachers, administrators, and support staff in the Commonwealth!  I am so very lucky to serve our students and our community with you!

Helen Walton, wife of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton has said,  “It’s not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells the kind of life you have lived.”  As educators, you have made a far reaching impact on the lives of our students that will last a lifetime.  Thank you for everything that you do to make a positive difference in the lives of our children!

The ending of daylight savings time marked the transition from one competitive season to another.  As our students begin to make preparations for tryouts and the extra-curricular events that will take place this winter, we want to celebrate the many successes and accomplishments of our students and our staff from the Fall.

Team Goochland has achieved a tremendous amount of success this season!  This success is a direct result of all of the sacrifices, dedication, and hard work that made these accomplishments possible!  It is exciting to see that all of this success was not isolated to one team or one school.  All of our teams had an amazing Fall season!

The Goochland High School Band participated in several competitions this Fall and even hosted one event at GHS.  In every one of these competitions, our Marching Bulldogs excelled as they were recognized for their talent at each event!

Goochland High School Band

Our GHS Cheerleaders had also had a very successful Fall as they qualified to compete in the AA cheerleading state finals this past weekend.  Your hard work and dedication has paid off!  Congratulations on a great Fall!

Goochland High School Cheerleaders at the state AA competition.

Senior golfer Meghan Wright represented Goochland High School at the state golf tournament.  Meghan is the first golfer in recent memory to represent the Bulldogs at this event.

Senior golfer Meghan Wright

Another success from this past Fall was our high school production of Little Shop of Horrors!  Many, many hours of set design, practice, and choreography  resulted in an exceptional event earlier in October!  Our parents and community came out in strength to support our thespians.

Goochland High School performs Little Shop of Horrors

For the first time in school history, Goochland High School has two District Skills USA officers.  Taylor Guy and Derek Powers will be representing us in these leadership positions for this Career and Technical Education student organization.  Students in our heavy equipment operators class demonstrated their skill at the State Fair this fall and were also recognized for their talents at the Richmond Area Municipal Contractor’s Assocation annual banquet in October.

We still have several of our teams who are still actively competing at the state level.  Our varsity football team finished their regular season with a perfect 10-0 record and will be playing in the first round of the regional playoffs this Friday at 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium.

Undefeated Goochland High School football team

Our Bulldogs varsity volleyball team finished the regular season without losing a set!  Four Bulldogs made the James River first team with one making the second team.  Alexis Wiggins was named James River District Player of the Year and Coach Erixson was named District Coach of the Year.  Our Bulldogs have two wins in regional play and will host the regional finals Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m. versus Poquoson.  Let’s pack the gym and support our lady Bulldogs!

Goochland High School volleyball team

Our boys and girls cross country teams have also had a very successful Fall season!  Both of our teams made it to the state meet for the first time ever.  They will be competing in the state meet this weekend.  Good luck Bulldogs!

Goochland high school cross country teams

This past weekend, our elementary and middle school robotics teams competed in the regional First Lego League competition.  Our students fared well as the team from Randolph Elementary finished second and our team from Byrd Elementary finished first!  Both of these teams will represent us at James Madison University at the state level competition.

Randolph Elementary Lego Robotics Team

 

Byrd Elementary Lego Robotics Team

In addition to these accolades, our employees have received notoriety as well.  Beth Ferguson, 4th grade teacher at Randolph Elementary has received the honor of serving our community this year as the Goochland Christmas Mother.  Jim Frago, science and social studies teacher at Goochland Middle School, was recently recognized for his instructional innovation in a nationally-recognized publication, Education Week.  Melissa Black, athletic trainer at Goochland High School was recognized by NBC 12 for demonstrating Excellence in Education.  Earlier this Fall, Debbie White, our Director of Finance was awarded the Certified Administrator of School Finance and Operations (SFO) certification by the Association for School Business Officials International.  She is only one of seven professionals in the Commonwealth of Virginia to earn this credential.

Beth Ferguson, Goochland Christmas Mother

Stay tuned for an announcement that will be made publicly early next week that has affirmed our position as a leader in technology integration with our one to one digital initiative!

We continue to be a leader in the Commonwealth both inside and outside of the classroom.  I’m continually impressed by the level of engagement and instruction that is taking place inside our schools every day!  We have talented and hard-working students who are supported by dedicated teachers, coaches, families, volunteers, and community!  Our accolades would not be possible without the contributions of everyone on Team Goochland!   There is no doubt that the Goochland County Public Schools is a school division of excellence!

 

 

Can you believe that our first nine weeks grading period ends today and that we are now a quarter of the way through this school year!  Time flies when we are having fun, and this is certainly true this year as our division has had an exciting first quarter.

Our division continues to excel in every dimension of our work with students every day.  During the last two weeks our school division celebrated the contributions and accomplishments of our food service team as we served locally sourced meals to students for Farm to School Week and recognized our dedicated employees during National School Lunch Week.  These teammates work hard each and every day to provide our students with nutritious and healthy meals that provide the fuel for our students to succeed in their academic endeavors!

Dr. Raley serves lunch to students at Goochland Elementary School

 

This week, we celebrated the service of our transportation team during National School Bus Safety Week.  Our dedicated transporters ensure that our students are delivered to and from school safely every day with extreme care and caution.  In addition to the exceptional work of our drivers, I want to recognize the work of our transportation department leadership who assisted the Goochland County Fire and Rescue Department during an accident on Interstate 64 this week.  Students from a private school were travelling back from a field trip when one of their drivers experienced a medical emergency, resulting in the bus running off the road.  Our transportation personnel responded to the scene and transported the students who were delivered back to their school safely.  I am very proud of their response and their support of these students during a very stressful time.

Goochland Public Schools mechanic works on school bus in bus garage.

 

Students in our classrooms continue to be provided with exceptional academic experiences, and I continue to be proud of our hard working students and our dedicated instructional staff!  Each time I am in one of our schools, I am impressed with how our teachers make learning fun while providing students with deep and engaging learning opportunities.  Our scholars who participate in extracurricular activities continue to shine in and out of the classroom!  Our athletic teams are in the midst of successful fall sports seasons, and the students and staff who participated in our fall production at the high school were fantastic!  Little Shop of Horrors was amazing!

 

Goochland High School performs Little Shop of Horrors

 

On Tuesday October 10, the steering committee charged with working to develop our school division’s long term facility master plan presented their recommendation to the Goochland County School Board for consideration.  This recommendation was the result of many hours of data analysis, dialogue, and discussion by these volunteers.  I want to thank them again for their engagement and dedication to the process.  On November 28 at 3:30 p.m. the School Board and the Board of Supervisors will conduct a joint work session to discuss this topic further.  This is a public meeting and everyone is welcomed to attend.

This weekend, we celebrate Homecoming at Goochland High School with a football game tonight at 7 p.m. against Randolph Henry and the homecoming dance tomorrow night at 7.  Next week, our high school will be hosting a viewing of the film Chasing the Dragon, and will be having a discussion regarding the dangers of prescription opiods and heroin.  This event starts at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday October 25 and is open to the public.  In early November, students have the opportunity to attend a college preparation seminar sponsored by Partnership for the Future to learn more about the college admission process, financial aid, and budgeting.  This event is free and is open to all high school students.

Please keep in mind that schools will be closed on Monday October 23 for parent conferences and Tuesday October 24 for a professional work day for our staff.  There will be a lot going on in the coming weeks as we will be developing the next three years of our instructional calendars as well as making preparations for next year’s budget.  Stay in touch with all of the excellence taking place in our division by liking our facebook page and following us on twitter (@glndschools) and instagram (@goochlandschools).  Additionally, you can stay up to date with all of the great things happening in our schools through our division leadership blog: http://leadership.goochlandschools.org and on our division website.  

Have a great Fall weekend!