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.

 

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

 

It is hard to believe that we have now been out of school on summer vacation for six weeks!  Although summer seems to be passing quickly, there are still a little over three weeks remaining to enjoy the break before we welcome students back for the start of another great year on August 20.  

I wanted to try something new this year to supplement some of the written communications that you have received in the past through e-mail, blog, and social media.  As a division, we are continually striving to find innovative ways to make improvements in the experiences that we provide for our students and our families. Aligned with this notion, I have tried out a 360 degree camera in an interview with me and Dr. John Hendron, our Director of Innovation and Strategy.  

As you watch the interview, use your mouse to click on the video and move around the room to see different viewpoints.  I hope to use this camera this year in future communications to help provide a glimpse into classrooms and division events that you may not have had in the past.  With this tool, you will be able to experience video in a way that you have not been able to do before. I am excited about the possibilities that exist!

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.  I look forward to seeing you at our student orientations and back to school events coming up during the week of August 13!   

Please also keep in mind that you can 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

jraley@glnd.k12.va.us

804-556-5601

 

As a follow up to another tragic active shooter incident at a high school near Houston, Texas, I would like to update our community on our efforts in Goochland County to continuously improve the safety of our facilities.  As you may remember from my message in February or may have seen in our School Board presentation in April, securing our facilities, educating our students and staff, and consistently monitoring our progress have always been priorities for our division.  Events of the past few months nationwide have only served to create more urgency in taking action to realize those priorities.

This summer will include some of the most extensive work toward improving facility safety and updating our division procedures for crisis response.  We recently concluded a survey of all division facilities to prepare for summer and fall installation of video monitored key card access as well as door position controls in all 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. We are also preparing to update and modernize the telephone/intercom system at the secondary complex to enhance communications.  

At our middle and high school, we are working to install a transaction window in the lobby area near the main entrance this summer.  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.  You may have already noticed that our staff now greet all guests and request identification upon arrival at our door buzzer systems in all schools.

A committee of leaders, parents, and law enforcement officials has convened to discuss potential changes to the parking and traffic flow at the secondary complex.  Moving the student parking lot from the back of the school to the front of the school is being discussed as this change will allow for a single point of entry into the school for our students and visitors.  Associated changes for morning and afternoon drop off and pick up are also being reviewed. We recognize the need to improve safety and traffic flow for our community, and we are exploring practical options for improvement in 2018-2019.

We anticipate Board of Supervisors approval of a budget amendment in the weeks ahead that will provide funding to add two new positions to our division that are intended to support student safety.  A full-time counselor will be added to the high school, allowing our division to employ 2 full time counselors at GMS and three full time counselors at GHS to provide vital social-emotional support.  We have also established a full time School Security Officer position that will support all dimensions of safety at the secondary complex. The Goochland Sheriff’s Office is working with us to re-establish the second School Resource Officer position in our division.  We are grateful for the support of our Board of Supervisors, Sheriff’s Office, and all county agencies as we work together to implement meaningful change toward enhanced safety in our division.

In addition to this ongoing and upcoming work, we will update our crisis plan, host tabletop exercises, implement SafeSchools training for division and building leadership, and add safety training to the new teacher induction process this year.  Our newly formed Safety and Facilities Task Force will meet for the first time in June, and their work will be made available to the public for feedback as they meet bimonthly and discuss ongoing concerns and plan for the short and long term future of our safe facilities here in Goochland County Public Schools.

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 will repeat what I mentioned in my February message. Perhaps the most important part of safety is one that does not come in the form of training, technology, or devices:  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.  

Thank you, as always, for what you do to support our students and our amazing school division.

Jeremy Raley, Superintendent

 

The end of our school year is drawing near with just over 6 weeks left before students and staff leave for the summer.  It is so very hard to believe that the end of the school year is that close! For veteran educators, we all know how crazy the end of the year can be with concerts, field days, paperwork, and the final push to get students across the finish line for the year.

Before these last few weeks get away from us, this week provides an opportunity to pause and give thanks for the tireless efforts of our dedicated and talented team.  There will be many different activities that schools will be doing this week to recognize Teacher Appreciation Week. You will be provided meals, treats, and multiple thank you notes as your efforts are recognized by students, parents, colleagues, and our community.  Take a moment to soak in all of these accolades, because you most certainly deserve all of them and many, many more!

Please know that it is an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to serve with you as we strive daily to maximize the potential of every one of our students and make a positive impact in their lives.  I know that our instructional team dedicates countless hours to plan actively engaging and meaningful lessons for our students. You strive daily to innovate and find creative ways to help students achieve academic success.  I am in awe every time that I have the pleasure of seeing you in action!

I have also seen first-hand the pride that our bus drivers, custodians, and other operational staff have as they support the ongoing success of our Team.  On many occasions, I have talked with our teammates who are quick to point out that the roles of our support staff are much larger than cleaning the floors or dispensing medication.  We are successful because of the contributions of EVERYONE on our team!

I have said before that although we all wear different titles and play different roles on our team, everyone on Team Goochland is an educator who seeks opportunities to prepare our next generation for success.  “The best thing about being a teacher is that it matters. The hardest thing about being a teacher is that it matters every day” – Todd Whitaker. For ALL of our team, what you do every day DOES matter. You are making a positive impact every day!

Please know that the time, talent, and efforts that you dedicate to our school division are greatly appreciated.  It is because of you that the Goochland County Public Schools is, and will continue to be, the standard setter for public education in the Commonwealth.  Thank you for all that you do!

Jeremy

 

On Tuesday of this week (April 17), the Goochland County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the county’s budget for 2018-2019 which also includes our school division budget. The County budget includes $32,678,827 for the School’s operating budget and $1,900,000 for the School’s capital improvements budget, identical budgets approved by the School Board on February 13, 2018. The operating budget will allow the School division to hire one new science teacher at the middle school and one new science teacher at the high school as well as two instructional coaches that will work with teachers to maximize student potential in reading and math, for a total of 370 school-based staff.

All staff will receive the equivalent of a 2% raise with no increase in out of pocket expenses for health insurance for employees who choose our high deductible plan or our $500 deductible plan.  This is significant as other neighboring governments may pass some or all of any increase in health insurance premiums to their employees.

A summary of the proposed, now approved, budget can be found by clicking here with additional detail regarding next year’s budget can be found by clicking here.  The capital budget will allow for security projects at each of the schools, a roof repair at Randolph Elementary School, and a $500,000 set-aside to build a new Goochland Elementary School in 2022.

Many members of Team Goochland spend countless hours working to identify the many strategic needs of our division for the upcoming school year.  Thank you for all of the time and effort that went into this process! It has also been a pleasure working with County staff and the Board of Supervisors who have clearly placed an emphasis on investing in public education in our community.  We are extremely fortunate to have a strong partnership between our School Board and our Board of Supervisors and are grateful for their support!

 

Many of you may be aware that Friday, April 20  is being advertised as the National School Walkout.  It has come to our attention that some of our high school students may participate in this event.  Like the student-led walkout that took place on March 14, our school division will neither encourage, nor will we discourage student participation.  Employees will not be active participants in this event, should it take place.

If a student-led walkout takes place, it is expected to be different from the one that occured last month as we anticipate that students who leave school for this walkout will not return to class.  While our school division respects the right of students to engage in an expression of their voice, we do not support, nor do we condone unauthorized leave from the school grounds during the instructional day.  This Friday, we are planning for a normal instructional schedule. We expect students will attend classes for the duration of the day.

We want to provide advance notice that students who voluntarily choose to walk out tomorrow will be counted with an unexcused absence unless a parent or guardian provides a written note requesting that their child’s absence be excused.  Elementary and middle school students will not be permitted to leave school school grounds unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Our school division’s code of conduct outlines the consequences for students who leave school ground without permission.

It is also important for our students, parents, and guardians to know that once a student leaves school grounds, our school division is no longer able to provide for their safety.  Students who leave school grounds and do not return do so at their own risk.

Please feel free to contact your child’s principal or my office if you have any questions.  As partners in your child’s academic experience, it is important that we work together to foster their success.

Jeremy J. Raley, Ed.D.

Superintendent

 

John L. Lumpkins

Chairman, Goochland County School Board