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.

 

The Goochland County Public School division was recently recognized by Niche.com among the top in several categories at both the regional and state level in their 2018 rankings, published last month at https://www.niche.com/k12/d/goochland-county-public-schools-va/   These ratings are based on a rigorous analysis of statistics as well as student and parent reviews for schools across the Commonwealth.  

Goochland’s distinctions in the 2018 rankings include:

  • #1 school division out of 17 in the Richmond region
  • #1 safest school division out of 17 in the Richmond region
  • #10 best school division in Virginia out of 132
  • #6 safest school division in Virginia out of 132

When determining a rating, Niche ranks various factors and weights different performance measures. The greatest weight is placed on an academic measure and is 50% of the rating. Culture & diversity, health & safety,  student & parent surveys, and teacher quality are each weighted at 10%. Resources & facilities are 5% of the overall assessment, while clubs, activities and sports are weighted at 2.5% each.

“Goochland County Public Schools is a proud and successful school division due to the efforts of our outstanding staff in all dimensions of our organization-teachers, leaders, staff,  students, parents, and the community that supports them,” said Dr. Jeremy Raley, Superintendent. “We are excited for this recognition and even more excited to continue to find ways to make the Goochland experience even better”

The recognition by Niche.com arrives after several recent GCPS recognitions, including the Virginia Board of Education Distinguished Achievement Award and the recent recognition of Mr. Jay Brockman as the Virginia middle school CTE teacher of the year.

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

 

Governor Ralph Northam and the state Board of Education announced yesterday that 349 schools and 16 school divisions earned 2018 Virginia Index of Performance (VIP) awards for advanced learning and achievement. The VIP program recognizes schools and divisions that exceed state and federal accountability standards and achieve excellence goals established by the Governor and the Board of Education.  Goochland County Public Schools was recognized as one of the 15 divisions earning the 2018 Board of Education Distinguished Achievement Award for its 2016-2017 student achievement.

“The teachers, principals and support staff in these schools share a commitment to academic excellence and meeting the needs of every learner,” said Governor Northam.  “I congratulate our educators, school administrators, and the students of these great schools for achieving the Commonwealth’s highest award for schoolwide excellence.”

Goochland County Public Schools, in addition to meeting Virginia SOL accreditation benchmarks with fully accredited status for all schools for over ten consecutive years, has made instructional innovation, engaging curriculum, recruitment and retention of quality personnel, and significant capital planning to support quality instruction areas of focus under the leadership of the current School Board and Superintendent, Dr. Jeremy Raley.  

“Our results are strong, we have a lot to be proud of,” said Dr. Steve Geyer, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction.  “I often get asked by colleagues across the state what makes our instructional program so successful. My response is always the same, ‘It’s our people.’”

Geyer added, “We have great kids and families – and we have the most dedicated, talented, caring educators anywhere. It’s their hard work every single day that’s at the center of our division’s success.”

The Goochland County Public Schools mission is to maximize the potential of every learner.  Read more about the 2018 Virginia Department of Education VIP Awards at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/news/news_releases/2018/06-jun27-gov.shtml

 

 

 

 

Although the 2017-2018 school year has barely ended, we are already preparing for the 2018-2019 school year that will begin in less than 11 weeks on August 20!  One of the most important areas of focus for our division in summer preparation is transportation.  We want to ensure that our families and students are given ample advanced information about transportation processes so that the first day of school is as smooth as possible.

Please note the following:

  • 2018-2019 bus routes will be posted on PowerSchool by noon on Monday, August 6.  PowerSchool allows parents to update their contact information for school and division communications, view attendance and grade information, and view bus information.  Visit https://powerschool.glnd.k12.va.us 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 only to all rising Preschool, Kindergarten, 6th, and 9th grade families on August 6th. 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 6 to access bus number and stop information. 

 

  • Summer school students will receive letters in the U.S mail with information on summer school hub bus stops prior to the beginning of summer school on June 25.

 

  • 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 July 27th: Transportation Alternative Stop Request

We will continue to update our families as we prepare for another great year in GCPS, including updates about our many improvements in transportation safety.  Active GPS installation is scheduled to begin this summer to follow last summer’s installation of cameras on all buses.  Extended stop arm devices are being used on several buses, and our radio upgrade is now complete in cooperation with Goochland County Emergency Services.  In addition to our safety upgrades, we continue to evaluate bus routes to maintain efficiency while reducing ride times as much as possible.

We know that transparent and ongoing two way communication is key to ensuring that you and your family  have a positive experience.  Even with technology, the best and most reliable form of communication is to contact the Department of Transportation directly via telephone with any questions at 804-556-5361.

 

 

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