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 Virginia Department of Education recently announced that the Goochland County Public Schools Utility/Heavy Construction I and II program has been selected as the Region 1 winner from among 38 high schools in 16 central Virginia school divisions of the 2018 Creating Excellence Program Award.  The Creating Excellence Awards are presented annually to recognize exemplary programs and partnerships that promote excellence in career and technical education.

The GCPS Heavy Equipment Program, taught by Mr. Michael Verrastro, is unique in the Commonwealth, and has worked collaboratively with community organizations and equipment suppliers from around the state to provide students with the opportunity to gain firsthand experience in the operation of heavy equipment.  Students have used their skills to enhance several projects in the division and the county.

“Our heavy equipment program has been a great source of pride for our school division,” said Mr. Bruce Watson, Director of Career and Technical Education.  “The skill of Mr. Verrastro, the enthusiasm of our students, and the support of our business and community partners have allowed us to engage our students in ways that cannot be found in any other school or division”.

Mr. Verrastro demonstrates Heavy Equipment for GES students

Mr. Verrastro demonstrates Heavy Equipment for GES students

 

The GCPS staff will be recognized at an awards luncheon on June 14, hosted by the VDOE Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.  Heavy Equipment is one of many CTE offerings that have distinguished GCPS in creating a balanced experience that engages all students in deeper learning.  

 

 

 

 

On Tuesday, May 1, Goochland County Public Schools held its second Celebration of Excellence at the newly renovated Central High School Cultural and Educational Center to recognize 2018 retirees, Teacher of the Year, Employee of the Year, Team of the Year, and for the first time this year, Volunteer and Rookie of the Year.  The Celebration of Excellence featured food prepared and served by Goochland High Culinary Arts students and GCPS Food Service, and plaques were made by our GCPS Career and Technical Education Department.

The Goochland Education Foundation joined Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Raley in presenting awards to the evening’s distinguished recipients:

  • Liz Alford, Goochland High Teacher of the Year
  • Patrick Gordon, Goochland Middle Teacher of the Year
  • Simone Jones, Byrd Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • Jaime Sprouse, Randolph Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • Kelley Taylor, Goochland Elementary Teacher of the Year 

Ms. Kelley Taylor, 1st grade teacher at Goochland Elementary School, was selected as the Goochland County Public Schools 2018 Teacher of the Year.  She will be considered with teachers from across the Commonwealth for the honor of being the 2018 Mary Bicouvaris Virginia Teacher of the Year.

The GCPS Employee of the Year is Instructional Technology Resource Coach Ms. Krystle Demas. 

The GCPS Team of the Year is the GHS Counseling Team, which includes Dr. Beth Fowler, Mr. Doug Getter, and Ms. Ashton Guza.

The inaugural Rookie of the Year is Ms. Katie Schihl, Special Education teacher from Goochland Middle School.

GCPS Volunteer of the Year is Dr. Richard Carchman, for his service in all our schools, especially at Byrd Elementary.

Goochland Public Schools retirees Ms. Kim Bachmann, Mrs. Deborah Blackburn, Mrs. Margaret Dickerson, Ms. Linda Drake, Mr. Bryan Gordon, Ms. Deborah Riggan, and Ms. Tina Taylor account for over 140 years of experience in Goochland County Public Schools.

Ms. Katie Schihl, 2018 Rookie of the Year

Ms. Katie Schihl, 2018 Rookie of the Year

GHS Counseling Team of the Year

GHS Counseling Team, Team of the Year (L-R, Dr. Beth Fowler, Dr. Raley, Ms. Ashton Guza, Mr. Doug Getter

2018 Employee of the Year

Mrs. Krystle Demas, Instructional Technology Resource Coach, 2018 Employee of the Year

Dr. Richard Carchman, 2018 Volunteer of the Year

Dr. Richard Carchman, 2018 Volunteer of the Year

Ms. Kelley Taylor, 2018 GCPS Teacher of the Year

Ms. Kelley Taylor, 2018 GCPS Teacher of the Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

At their monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 1, the Goochland County Board of Supervisors swore in Mr. John L. Lumpkins, Jr. as the Supervisor for District 3.  With Mr. Lumpkins’ departure from his position as Chair of the Goochland County School Board to assume his Supervisor position, the School Board met on Wednesday, May 2 to conduct the business of School Board re-organization and planning to fill the vacancy for District 3 representative to the School Board.

Mr. John D. Wright, District 5 representative, was unanimously approved by the Board to serve as Chair, a position he assumes immediately. With his approval as Chair, Mrs. Beth Hardy, District 4 representative, was selected as the Vice Chair.  Mr. Michael Payne, District 1 representative, will now serve as the alternate to Mr. Wright on the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School Board.

The School Board approved the following calendar for the appointment of the District 3 representative, who will serve in the position until a special election in November of 2018:

  • The Tuesday, May 8 School Board meeting has been moved to Tuesday, May 15, beginning with open meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the County Administration Building Board Room located at 1800 Sandy Hook Road, Room 250, Goochland, VA 23063.
  • On Tuesday, May 15, School Board members will review applications for the interim board member during closed session.  All applications must be submitted by 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, May 14 to Diane Bennett, School Board Clerk, in order to be considered.  Only individuals submitting completed applications will be considered. Applications are available online at this link.
  • Applicants will be given the opportunity to address the Board during public comment at the Tuesday, May 15 School Board Meeting.  The Board will not be responding to candidates who address the Board regarding their interest in this interim position during this public comment session.
  • A special School Board meeting will be held on Thursday, May 30 to deliberate about interested applicants and appoint the District 3 Board representative.
  • The successful applicant will be appointed on May 30 by the School Board and will be sworn in before the first meeting with the Board on June 12.

Any questions about the process can be directed to Ms. Diane Bennett, Clerk of the School Board of Goochland County at dbennett@glnd.k12.va.us or 804-556-5630.

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