Spring is officially here, though it may be hard to tell with the winter weather that we experienced earlier this week!  Many may be wondering if we will need to make up any days as a result of the closing yesterday and today’s delay. At this time, no additional make up days are planned.  April 23 would be a make up day only if we miss two more days of school between now and then.  No change will be made in our scheduled Spring Break.  

Despite the weather, Spring is a busy time for our school division as students are actively participating in athletic activities, final preparations are being made for Goochland High School’s Spring musical and students at RES and GMS are getting ready for this weekend’s state Destination Imagination competition.  Even with the weather students were still able to take the Writing SOL this week. Spring will fly by with the end of the school year and graduation less than 9 weeks away! Hopefully warmer weather will be on it’s way so that we can enjoy the full beauty of Goochland’s springtime.

I know that school safety continues to be on everyone’s mind, and incidents nationwide since the Parkland, Florida incident underscore the need for our division to avoid complacency.  Since my initial communication in February, we have been taking a close look at our training, processes, facilities, communication, and collaboration with local agencies toward enhancing student safety.  Among those renewed efforts are the creation of a division safety task force that is in progress, targeted planning for after school crisis incidents to expand on current drills focusing on school day incidents, meetings with first responders, including the Goochland Sheriff’s Office and Fire-Rescue and Emergency Services, and plans for reconfiguration of our student, visitor, and staff parking at the secondary complex.  We welcome your input in this process. If you are interested in serving on our division-wide safety task force, please take a moment to complete this brief online survey.  I look forward to keeping our community updated on these and other efforts that are evolving quickly and will complement our previous plans, which include secure key access system installation in all school facilities, completion of the Informacast public address system to enhance communication, installation of active GPS on all school buses, and collaborative training exercises with the Goochland Sheriff’s Office.

You may notice next time you visit your child’s school that you will no longer simply be “buzzed in” to the facility after pressing the button at the main entrance.  To reinforce the purpose of the secure access, our staff will ask visitors to announce their name and reason for visit before being granted access to the facility. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we work to make continual improvements to our security procedures.    

Although safety is on our minds, there is still plenty to celebrate and look forward to in our schools in the weeks ahead.  We recognized Olivia Bullard as an all-state chorus selection at last week’s School Board meeting. She is only 1 of 2 GHS students to every earn this recognition!  Goochland hosted the SkillsUSA Region II competition last weekend, with Taylor Guy and Derek Powers earning first and second place medals in Heavy Equipment Operating and Jalyn Burns earning a second place finish in Culinary Arts.  Our students are shining in many ways!

Taylor Guy and Derek Powers are winners at District Skills USA competition

 

Jalyn Burns is a second place winner at district Skills USA competition

I am looking forward to our annual Reading Olympics will be held next week on March 29 at GES and am also pleased to announce the news that our MCJROTC unit has been fully funded by the United States Marine Corps!  This is a major victory for our community! Thank you to everyone who advocated for this program with our Senators and Congressman Brat. As of result of this decision, we will be able utilize local funds that were previously allocated for the support of this program to meet our divisions many strategic objectives.

As I mentioned earlier, spring sports are in swing.  Come and support our baseball, softball, tennis, track, and soccer teams this spring, where we return playoff-caliber teams and all-state players in all sports.  In Goochland fine and performing arts, we will host our Fine Arts Festival tomorrow (March 23) beginning at 5 p.m. at GHS. April 27, 28, and 29 will feature the Goochland High School spring musical, Fiddler on the Roof, in the auditorium.  Come and enjoy the work of our talented musicians and thespians.

Goochland County Town Hall meetings, which include valuable information about both our county and schools, conclude with the District 2 and 3 Town Hall held at the newly renovated Central High School facility on Dogtown Road Wednesday, March 28 at 7:00 p.m.

Thank you for your feedback and support during what has been a challenging time for public schools nationwide.  I am proud of the awesomeness of our school division and thankful to have the opportunity to serve our talented students, dedicated staff, and supportive community!  Continue to stay up to date with our division’s events by liking our Facebook page and following us on Twitter (@glndschools) and Instagram (@goochlandschools). Stay current with all of the great things happening in our schools at our division leadership blog at http://leadership.goochlandschools.org.   I look forward to seeing everyone at our many upcoming events in the future!    

 

The Goochland County Office of Children’s Services, in partnership with Goochland Cares, the Goochland-Powhatan Community Services Board, our school division, and other community agencies, has created a Community Care app that includes easy to access information on services to support mental health, substance abuse, and parenting support. Download the Community Care app on your Apple or Android phone today.

https://www.goochlandva.us/DocumentCenter/Home/View/2603

Community Care App

A few weeks ago, I wrote about our school division’s ongoing commitment to provide our students and staff with a safe and secure work and learning environment.  Last month’s school shootings in Parkland, Florida continue to generate a great deal of conversation and questions regarding our school division’s future planning.  In response to this tragic event, there are many student-led movements that deserve our attention. One of these events, the National School Walkout to End Gun Violence, is scheduled to take place on March 14 at 10:00 a.m. for 17 minutes when our students will be in Eagle Block and Bulldog Block.

As we are making plans for this and the possibility for other upcoming student-led events, our focus is on the safety and well-being of our staff and students.  We encourage students to be lifelong learners as well as active and positive contributors to our community. We respect the rights of students to engage in an expression of student voice as long as it is done respectfully, does not interfere with the rights of others, does not disrupt our learning environment, and does not jeopardize the safety of our students or our staff.  Allowing public expression by students, within these parameters, is aligned with our core values of Excellence, Courage, and Honor as we support an environment in which individuals seek to have a purposeful positive impact, advocating for themselves and others at all times.  

Planning for this event has involved students, staff, the Goochland Sheriff’s Office, and the Goochland County Fire-Rescue and Emergency Services.  On March 14, middle school or high school students who voluntarily choose to walk out will exit through designated doors and will re-enter the building in an orderly fashion.  It is important to note that teachers and administrators will neither encourage nor discourage participation in this student led event, nor will our staff participate, other than to provide supervision.  Staff will have a presence both inside and outside to ensure student safety, while security will be provided by the Sheriff’s Office.

Goochland County Public Schools is committed to meeting exceptional standards of growth, achievement, professionalism, character, and personal responsibility.  Our objective on March 14 and everyday is to support these values in a safe environment.

Our administrative team is happy to answer questions that you may have regarding our planned approach to this national event.  Please contact me at 556-5601, Ms. Rucker or Mr. Collier at the school if you would like to discuss this further.

We enjoy a  special and critical  partnership with all of our families, and I am committed to leading our division in a manner where parents, teachers and all school personnel work effectively together everyday to ensure a safe and positive school experience for our students.

Students at Goochland Middle School and Goochland High School have developed questions that will be asked to Astronaut Scott Tingle on the International Space Station.  As a National STEM Ambassador, Anne Moore, has been to building connections with  NASA’s Education team.  Students in Goochland Middle School’s Modern Smarts Club have created some videos and lesson ideas for the International Space Station STEMonstrations.  We are optimistic that the work done by our Modern Smarts students will be selected for future use by NASA.

 

Ms. Moore has also collaborated with Scott Black, NASA Ed, who is in charge of a Skype session with Astronaut Scott Tingle who is currently aboard the International Space Station.  Students in the Modern Smarts Club and students from Mrs. Alfords classes at Goochland High School submitted questions they would like to have read to the astronaut.  Seventeen questions written by nine of our scholars  will be shared with Astronaut Tingle next Friday during a live session at the National Science Teachers Association National Convention in Atlanta. 

 

Ms. Moore will be at the convention to ask one question, but other teachers in attendance will step up to ask each of the 17 questions selected from our GHS and GMS students!  When their questions are read, the student’s name and school will be credited. Goochland’s names will be referenced 17 times not his international stage!  NASA staff were most impressed with the quality of the questions sent to him by Ms. Moore and our students.

 

Please join me in congratulating the GHS students in Ms. Alford’s classes: Demond Morris, Breanna Johnson (2 questions selected), James DeLoach, and Jackson Raines.  GMS students represented are Leah Kelley, Blake Gilman, Skylar Hunnewell, Wyatt Davis, and Kaysen Mills.  Kaysen will have three of her questions read.

Tune in to watch this from the NASA.gov, on NASA TV, or online at: www.nasa.gov/ntv at 9:40 a.m. on Friday March 16. I’m so proud of our talented students and staff!

The Goochland County Public Schools Teen Mental Health Committee is hosting a Wellness Night next Thursday (March 15, 2018) at Goochland High School. This will be a family friendly event with snacks and child care for children age 5 and above will be available. Sessions will be interactive and focus on tips for living a healthier life, emphasizing both physical and mental wellness. Topics include nutrition, yoga, mindfulness, and healthy use of technology.

Wellness Night at Goochland High School on March 15, 2018

Parenting the Love and Logic Way® Classes Begin April 12

Goochland County offers the Parenting the Love and Logic Way® education program, an interactive series of two-hour sessions. These workshops help parents to provide a nurturing environment which encourages children to make healthy choices. It is based on a win-win approach to parenting that teaches young people how to be responsible, and parents how to establish healthy parameters for their children.
  WHEN: April 12, 19, 26 May 3,10 5:00 pm – 7 pm WHERE: Goochland County Administration Building; Room 270 1800 Sandy Hook Rd.  Goochland, VA 23063 COST: FREE– Space is limited Please contact the Goochland County Office of Children’s Services at 556-5875 or mjones@goochlandva.us to register.
 

At their meeting last Tuesday (2/13), the Goochland County School Board approved the attached two year instructional calendar. This multi-year instructional calendar was created over the course of several months with feedback from many different perspectives. It aligns with our strategic plan as well as our instructional philosophy.  

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.

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

I am hopeful that this multi-year instructional calendar will allow you to make personal and professional long term plans. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or need further clarification.

On Tuesday of this past week, the School Board approved a balanced, needs-based 2018-2019 budget that provides the personnel and resources that will move our school division forward on our journey to maximize the potential of every learner.  The initiatives outlined in this adopted budget align with our strategic plan and are aimed at maintaining our position as a leader in the Commonwealth.

The School Board also approved all of our salary scales with a 2% salary increase for all staff as well as revisions to some of our classified scales. They also approved health insurance rates.  With these approved rates, there will be no additional out of pocket health insurance costs for any of our full-time employees and a slight decrease in premiums for those on the high deductible plan. All of this leads to a total compensation package for our employees that maintains our competitive position in our region.  This will help us to retain the incredibly talented professionals we currently have, attract exceptional candidates when vacancies occur, and reward our exemplary employees for their performance.

This is an exciting time as we start preparing to secure the programmatic and personnel resources that will position us for another successful year.. In the next few months, you will see us advertise for the new positions that are included  in the 2018-2019 budget – two new science teachers, two new instructional coaches, several extra sections for the ACA program, and a Title I parent liaison. We will also have individual and/or small group meetings for classified employees to help them understand where they are placed on the new scales. Furthermore, we are working on a total compensation statement, often provided to employees in the private sector,  to be included with contracts in May to better describe the benefits that all of our employees receive from our division..

In summary, this adopted spending plan for next year provides the resources to support our journey toward continued excellence as we ensure that we are providing ALL of our students with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities that are so crucial for students to become successful members of a modern global community.

I will be presenting the School Board’s approved budget to the Goochland County Board of Supervisors on February 20th at 3:00 p.m.  This will be in the Board Room of the County Government Center.  Additionally,  several public meetings will be taking place in the coming weeks as the Board of Supervisors make final budget decisions for next year.

  • March 7th – Districts 4 and 5 Town Hall – Hermitage Country Club – 7:00 p.m.
  • March 20th – District 1 Town Hall – Fire Company 4 – 7:00 p.m.
  • March 28th – Districts 2 and 3 Town Hall – Central High School – 7:00 p.m.
  • April 3rd – Board of Supervisors Public Hearing on County Budget – Goochland Administration Building, Room 250 – 7:00 p.m.
  • April 17th – Board of Supervisors Approve County Budget – Goochland Administration Building, Room 250 – 3:00 p.m.

As always, please let me know if you have questions or need further clarification regarding anything contained in this adopted budget.