Please join me in congratulating Robin Powers, GCPS Accounting Technician, who recently completed all certification requirements through the VA Institute of Procurement to become a Virginia Contracting Associate. The certification requires a rigorous program of classroom instruction and a comprehensive exam.

Through this certification Robin has demonstrated an exemplary knowledge of procurement law, regulation and policy and has positioned GCPS to reach even higher levels of excellence in purchasing.

We applaud Mrs. Powers, pictured below with GCPS Director of Finance, Debbie White, for her commitment to excellence in public purchasing!

Robin Powers, left, with Debbie White.

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) is pleased to announce that for the second consecutive year, Goochland County Public Schools has received the prestigious Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its budget. This national Award represents the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

“The school board remains committed to fiscal transparency,” remarked superintendent James Lane. “A clear, accessible process of budget development and accounting throughout the year is tantamount to the goals of our strategic plan.”

For her primary responsibility and diligence in development and presentation of the school budget, Deborah White, Finance Director, also received a Certificate of Recognition. “Mrs. White continues to lead the budget development process with excellence,” said Lane. “We can confidently assure our community that the school division is handling funds with utmost responsibility and efficiency.”

Left to right: Kevin Hazzard, John Wright, James Lane, Debbie. White, Michael Payne, John Lumpkins, Beth Hardy.

GCPS satisfied 14 nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation designed to assess how well an entity’s budget serves as a policy document, financial plan, operations guide, and communications tool. During the last budget cycle, the school board placed special emphasis on transparency by putting a greater focus on past actual expenditures, community engagement in the process, and sharing all documents with the public.  The school board held a public hearing and a town-hall style workshop to get feedback in the development of the budget.

“Our board’s leadership continues to be characterized by transparency and fiscal responsibility,” said board chair John Lumpkins. “We applaud Mrs. White and the school administration for this recognition and for the exemplary work it represents.”

The Goochland County Public School Board is considered to have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America.

The Government Finance Officers Association is a nonprofit professional association serving over 17,800 government finance professionals throughout North America. The GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program is the only national awards program in governmental budgeting.

You might recall that part of last year’s budget process involved the board’s consideration of funding some much-needed science lab equipment for Goochland Middle School. The school, when originally designed, had included some specific equipment needs that had been unfunded in past years.

The board supported these equipment requests last year, bringing the middle school science labs to full functionality. The result: our middle school students are able to realize the full capabilities of these modern labs and maximize their learning.

I thought you would enjoy seeing the fruit of the board’s support in action, below. GMS teacher, Carolyn Elliott, shared an experiment in the physical science chemistry lab on exothermic and endothermic reactions. They used the electronic scales, thermometers, graduated cylinders and lots of beakers for three different chemical reactions:

GMS students using new equipment in Ms. Elliott's science lab.

During its regularly scheduled meeting on September 13th, the school board voted to increase middle school coaching stipends and approved a first-ever supplement for the middle school athletic director. The coaching stipends have been stuck at $500, considerably lower than regional counterparts currently offer. The board raised those stipends to $1,000 each.

“This is much more suitable considering the work and the time these coaches pour into our students,” said superintendent, James Lane.

The middle school athletic director has never received any additional stipend, but will begin this year receiving $2,500. ”I’m grateful to the board for their support and believe this to be absolutely appropriate,” Dr. lane added.

I’m thankful for Dr. Lane taking time this afternoon to meet personally with members of the operations team to fully explain recent budget decisions and changes to the health care premiums. Despite a 12% increase to our health care rates, almost all employees will see more take-home pay next year due to the Board offsetting the increase by 7% and providing all staff with a 2% raise.

Dr. Lane meets with drivers, cafeteria and maintenance staff at Goochland High School.

We have exciting news regarding a bonus and compensation adjustment approved by the board!  During its regularly scheduled workshop on November 27, 2012, the School Board approved a one-time bonus payment for all full and part-time employees. As a part of the decision to provide the bonus, the Board also acted upon two other compensation issues that will have a positive impact on employees. The purpose of this letter is to explain each of these three decisions and the impact each will have on you.

One-Time Bonus Payment

In recognizing employees’ hard work and commitment to our students and community, the Board has approved a one-time bonus payment to all full and part-time employees who are employed by the school division as of December 1, 2012 as follows:

Full-Time Employees (at least 30 hours per week):         $600 Bonus                   

Part-Time Employees (15-29 hours per week):                 $300 Bonus

This bonus payment is being processed now and will be distributed during the second week of December.  Please remember that these bonus payments will be subject to normal withholding, such as FICA, state and federal tax.  The bonus amount is exactly the same as provided to county employees earlier in the Fall.

Restoration of 260-Day Contracts

The Board also restored 7 days to all 260-day contract employees who had been reduced to 253 days during last year’s budget planning. These employees will be issued new, 260-day contracts, in January 2013.   We felt strongly about recommending this restoration to the board as we did not want to see anyone’s pay reduced from last year if there was an opportunity to restore the days.  This adjustment will be made in two steps:

  1. A one-time “catch-up” payment of the income reduced from the July through December paychecks will be distributed to these employees in January 2013.
  2. Beginning with the January 2013 paycheck, these employees’ monthly income will be adjusted to include the restored contractual amount.

There are 61 employees impacted by this decision, including:

  • 25 custodians, maintenance staff and transportation staff
  • 15 administrative staff (principals, assistant principals, directors and assistant superintendents)
  • 11 administrative professionals (clerical staff and bookkeepers)
  • 9 division support staff (student support staff, supervisors, coordinators, school psychologists)

5.75% Increase to Staff Hired After July 1, 2012

For all employees hired previous to July 1, 2012, the board decided during the budget process to “phase-in” the new VRS requirement and thus, those employees received a 1.0969 % pay increase to offset the required 1% payment to VRS.   All employees hired after July 1, 2012, are required to pay 5% of their salary to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS); however, these employees did not receive a compensation adjustment to offset the loss in take-home pay.  In order to offset the state-mandated 5% increase in employee contribution to the VRS, at their meeting this week, the Board approved a 5.75% pay increase for all employees hired after July 1, 2012, that are VRS eligible with the exception of employees on the admin pay table.

This adjustment will be made in two steps:

  1. A one-time “catch-up” payment of the income reduced from the July through December paychecks will be distributed to these employees in January 2013.
  2. Beginning with the January 2013 paycheck, these employees’ monthly income will be adjusted to include the new contractual amount.

Again, we want to thank the board for providing these bonuses and compensation adjustments to our excellent faculty and staff as we head into our Winter Break.  If you have questions at any time, please do not hesitate to contact either one of us!


James Lane, Ed. D.

Peter Gretz, Ed. D.


In the spirit of collaboration as described in my first blog post, I mentioned last week that one of my main priorities upon entry in Goochland is to create an efficient and transparent budget process.  We have already opened the doors for our school leadership to provide us greater feedback through a thorough budget request process.  Now we want to open the doors to everyone in our community to give us your thoughts.  We have created a survey to help us identify specific budget priorities to be recommended to the school board on November 27.  Please click here to access the survey or copy the link below.

The survey can be very brief, yet it allows you the opportunity to give us unlimited feedback if your time allows more detail.  Please take the time to share your thoughts and ideas with us.  One thing that everyone will learn about my leadership style is that I take these opportunities for feedback very seriously and will make sure the board knows the thoughts and concerns of the community in developing budgets and plans.

On the last page of the survey, you also have the opportunity to complete our START, STOP, and CONTINUE survey.  In addition to budget, we want your feedback on programming in general as a precursor to our strategic planning.  Please feel free to identify programs that you would like to see enhanced.  The survey is open to anyone (Parents, Teachers, Staff, Students, Guardians, Community Members, Citizens, Residents, etc.).  We truly want everyone’s feedback, so please feel free to share our survey with anyone that you know has an interest in our schools.

Every day that we get closer to December 12 brings me increased excitement so that we can begin our collective partnership to guide our schools to increased excellence.