As I have conducted my “listening tour” throughout the community, I am constantly being asked by grandparents and community members about ways that they can get involved in our schools either through volunteering or charitable gifts.

For this reason, Dr. Gretz, Mr. Hendron, and I have been working together to create a brochure for potential volunteers/donors.  We hope this document will be a great resource for our parents and non-parent community members on ways to support our schools.  One of my favorite parts of the new document is the research that we have collected on the benefits of great public schools on economic development.

Click HERE to view the new Volunteering web page.  We are in the process of printing our brochure, but in the meantime, you can access it directly on our website by clicking HERE.

Congressman Eric Cantor contacted us last week and asked if we wanted to send any of our students to the inauguration.  We immediately contacted our 12th Grade Government Teacher, Mrs. Yearout-Patton (Mrs. EYP), to help select students.  Four of our students were given two tickets each to attend the event.  We hope to follow-up next week with more details and with pictures live from the event.  We would like to thank Congressman Cantor for giving our students the opportunity to hear President Obama speak!

Check out this amazing blog post from John Hendron on Trimble SketchUp for use in the classroom.  This program is an excellent introduction to 3D Drawing and Design (and the soon-to-be 3D printing)!  John will be presenting on SketchUp as part of his leadership and partnership in VSTE (the Virginia Society for Technology in Education).

 

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Mark Fernandes (our convocation speaker this year) is returning to Goochland on January 30 to meet with faculty and staff serving in leadership roles to continue our conversation on Values Based Leadership.  Even though we have asked some of our teacher leaders to attend, we want to open this session to anyone that would like to join us as well.  As a team member that started after convocation, I have been inspired by Mark’s work outside of Goochland and hope that this session will ignite our discussions as we formulate a team to draft an updated strategic plan for GCPS beginning in February. We hope to see you there!

The school board held their first budget workshop since the presentation of the Superintendent’s proposed budget.  At the workshop, the board members took the time to discuss the budget line by line with each of the principals and directors in the school division.  This detailed analysis is the first time that Goochland board members have discussed the budget at this level of detail.  Additionally, principals and directors shared with board members that they appreciated the collaborative approach we have taken to develop the budget.  We have tried to make sure that all stakeholder voices are heard in developing a fiscal plan for the next school year.  Please come out to our public hearing on January 22, our last workshop on January 29, or on February 5 when we adopt the FY14 GCPS Budget!

Mr. Lumpkins worked with our high school and middle school principal to gain insight into our Secondary programs.

Mrs. Hardy worked with Dr. Geyer and our Elementary principals:

Mr. Wright discusses our Administrative budget (with a view of all 5 break-out sessions):

One more reminder… the public hearing on the budget will be Tuesday, January 22 in our new location in the County Administration Building at our new time of 6:30 p.m.  See you then!

We held our “annual meeting” as part of the regular school board meeting this week.  We are excited announce school board leadership for 2013 – Mr. Wright (District 5) was elected chairman and Mr. Payne (District 1) was elected vice-chairman.  The school board also agreed to hold all future school board meetings at 6:30pm instead of 7pm. (with a closed meeting at 6pm if there is a need to discuss personnel, discipline, or legal matters). Additionally, we will begin holding school board meetings at the County Administration Building beginning January 22 (with the exception of February 5).  A full schedule of our board meetings is posted here.  Lastly, the board set some tentative “themes” for workshop meetings and those topics are posted here.

One of our new additions to the board meetings is called “Reflections.”  During this time, we will highlight a program from each school every month.  Dr. Geyer wrote about our latest reflection and how it stole the show!

This week we welcomed our students back from the Winter Break.  I was so impressed to see our students engaged is high-impact activities immediately upon our return!

Often times, we talk in terms of the 5 schools that we have in Goochland, but really we have many more school opportunities for our students, including our two Governor’s School Opportunities – Blue Ridge and Maggie Walker.  On Thursday, Mr. Hazzard (District 2 School Board Member), Ms. Hardy (District 4 School Board Member), and I had the opportunity to have an in-depth tour of the school, but one highlight was the opportunity to eat lunch with a few of our local Governor’s School students to learn more about the program.  The students spoke at length about how hard, yet rewarding, the program is.  We hope that everyone thinks of Maggie Walker as one of their schools!  The school board has committed to increase our enrollment by 3 additional students per year over a four year period to a total of 28 students by 2017.

We also began the process of meeting with each school to discuss data and how we can better meet the needs of ALL our students.  After each data meeting, we spent time visiting classes and I was so impressed to see a safety lesson being presented through a partnership with our Fire and Rescue Department.  Earl Taylor leads this discussion and we were so impressed about how he taught safety in an engaging way with our students.

Last week, I shared that Governor McDonnell visited Goochand.  On Wednesday of this week, the Governor presented his annual State of the Commonwealth.  As a “thank you” for hosting him in Goochland (and for John Lumpkins (District 3) speaking at his first press conference), the Governor asked Mr. Lumpkins and I to sit in the gallery of the General Assembly to view the State of the Commonwealth speech.  I have seen these speeches on TV in the past and it was an honor to have been asked to be there in person.  While there, though, we ran into Alex Herrera, the Goochland student chosen to serve as a Page in the House of Delegates.

Ms. East, our assistant principal at GMS, shared this post about an iBook about nature that Bea Cantor, our instructional technology resource teacher, published on iTunes!

If you are a user of social media, Mr. Hendron created this document to explain all of the ways that you can engage with Goochland County Public Schools.   He also created this video about how to get all of your favorite blogs (i.e. your child’s teachers) into an email digest.

The GHS Fall Athletic Awards program was held Thursday evening.  Congratulations to all of our Fall programs and to our numerous district champions including Cross Country, Volleyball, JV Football, and Cheerleading!  Of course, congratulations to our State Champion High School football team!

Lastly, please don’t forget we have our workshop on the budget this Wednesday, January 16, at 6:30pm at GHS!

At the school board meeting on January 8, we presented the proposed budget to the school board as part of their regular business meeting.  Please click HERE to view our budget calendar and to see the documents we have prepared thus far in our budget process.  We plan to share budget information in a transparent manner, so we will also date each of the documents as we post them.  My recommendation is that you click on the most recent documents.  Other than the presentation that I prepared as a summary for the board, there are four other documents to view:

The proposed budget is based on level funding as requested by our county leadership and a 9.2% reduction in all federal programs if sequestration occurs; however, we are extremely excited to announce that we were able to bring many updates to our budget, including:

  • We added a Title I Pre-K Classroom at Byrd Elementary meaning that we will now be able to offer free early childhood education for 18 of our most needy 4-year old students each year (approximately 36% percent of families with 4-year olds in the Byrd District)
  • Our Career and Technical Education program is expanding through additional equipment funding to bring us from 10 to 12 Career Pathways that will be offered at Goochland High School
  • We will complete the state-mandated phase-in of the new VRS rates immediately rather than continuing to phase over the next 3 years.  Teachers and all VRS eligible staff will now pay an additional 4% (for a total of 5%) of their salary as a VRS contribution, but we are going to match that with a 4.66% pay increase for all teachers to make sure that their take-home pay is not impacted
  • We reinstated the funding for the Summer Regional Governor’s School
  • Many other line-item adjustments were made to provide programmatic support for our teachers, such as funds for science lab equipment, band uniforms, etc.

The proposed budget does not call for a salary increase for faculty/staff above and beyond the VRS-based increase listed above.  In a letter from county administration, we were asked to provide the cost of a 1% salary increase as a figure above and beyond our budget.  My presentation provides this figure along with a figure necessary to fund the local match of the Governor’s proposed 2% pay increase – we would have to request an additional $222,000.

To see detail on all of these programs and other items proposed in our budget, the copy of the presentation that I made to the board is posted here.

We want our budget to be reflective of the needs of our schools and the innovations sought by our community.  For this reason, if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to email or call me at any time!