Happy New Year to all!  I hope that you had a restful and relaxing Winter break.  We have spent much of the break focused on our proposed budget.  Please take note that the Superintendent’s Proposed Budget will be presented to the school board tomorrow (Tuesday, January 8) at 7pm at GHS during our regular board meeting.  I will write a blog post later this week with specific budget details, but please join us if you want to hear the update in person.  After each public meeting, we will post our budget details on the school division website HERE.  Please check back either Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning to see a copy of my presentation and the budget detail documents.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time!

Also, last month, we introduced the idea of moving our board meetings to 6:30pm and to the County Administration building.  The school board will vote on that measure tomorrow night and if approved, we will have our first meeting in the new location at the new time on January 22.

For clarification, budget meetings this month will be:

  • January 8 – 7pm – GHS – Superintendent’s Proposed Budget
  • January 16 – 6:30pm – GHS – Budget Workshop
  • January 22 – 6:30pm – County Admin Bldg – Budget Public Hearing
  • January 29 – 6:30pm – County Admin Bldg – Budget Workshop
  • February 5 – 6:30pm – GHS*** – Final Budget Approval by the School Board (***County Admin Bldg was not available)
We will also be adopting our Capital Improvement Plan on February 5 and have vacancies available if any citizens would like to serve on the Facilities Committee.  If you live in Districts 2, 4, or 5, please contact Dr. Gretz for more information.

Governor McDonnell visits Goochland Middle School!

The other major news from the break was the visit by Governor Bob McDonnell.  The Governor chose Goochland Middle School to release his education-related legislative agenda.   The full press release from the Governor’s Office is located HERE.  Mrs. Burdette and I were honored to have been asked to speak at the press conference, a copy of the comments that I gave are posted HERE.  Thank you so much to the numerous parents and citizens that attended to support us!  Also, all five of our school board members and numerous other local officials (including four members of our Board of Supervisors) were in attendance and we thank them for taking the time out of their schedules.

Governor McDonnell, we would like to thank you, Secretary Fornash, and Deputy Secretary Siddiqi for choosing our county for this announcement!

Here is the full-length video of the press conference. We posted the full un-edited stream, please jump to 9:22 to see the beginning with the Governor’s entrance and Secretary Fornash’s introduction of Mrs. Burdette.  Mrs. Burdette begins speaking at 11:22.  Governor McDonnell begins at 13:33.  My speech begins at 35:08.  Thanks to Mr. Hendron for many of the pictures and for posting this video!

The Governor Arrives at GMS/GHS.

The Governor Meets Our Impressive Students.

Mrs. Burdette Introduces the Governor.

We were all so honored to be on stage with the Governor.

Thank you so much to everyone from Goochland that joined us in the audience!

Look at all of our proud parents!

Finally, it has been a couple weeks now, but I just have to highlight a few activities from before the holidays.  At Goochland Elementary School, Mrs. McCay shared with me that we had books donated by the Delta Kappa Gamma Chapter of Alpha Epsilon to our Headstart Program.  The students were so happy to receive their books and we thank you so much for your donation!

I was also impressed to see this post about brain-based learning from Amie Potter, one of our GIST facilitators.

Lastly, many of you know that our Goochland Bulldogs won their State Football Championship, but we are also proud to announce that the Touchdown Club of Richmond named Coach Fowler as his group’s Coach of the Year!!  He will be honored at a reception later this month, please wish him congratulations!

Have a great new year and an amazing 2nd semester!

Governor McDonnell, on behalf of the Goochland School Board and the Board of Supervisors and our Community, we want to thank you for being here to share your message with us this afternoon.  I am so impressed with the number of teachers, students, and community members that have come today and I cannot begin to tell you how much your support of our schools means to our school division.  We are an innovative school division and your presence here today affirms our efforts to build a model rural school division with world-class schools are beginning to reach outside of our county lines.    We also believe Goochland is primed for greater economic development and we know our schools are the key to building a stronger economy in Goochland and in the Richmond-metro region.

We would like to commend you on your proposal to implement the K-12 Red Tape Reduction Act.  Furthermore, the additional staffing flexibility you have proposed will free up funding for small rural schools to target specific needs, especially those we see in our own school division.  We know our students.  Any move to bring more local control regarding what is best for our students should be looked upon favorably.  The flexibility you have proposed will provide Goochland an easier path towards implementing new innovative initiatives that may not be permitted in the current state regulations.  We realize that greater flexibility will lead to greater accountability, but we are confident we can demonstrate that making allowances for innovation will also lead to more opportunities and higher achievement.

We also appreciate your efforts to bring the focus back to literacy in the early grades.  The educational research is clear on the importance of reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade.  Your proposal to give struggling schools the flexibility to focus on reading and reduce the number of SOL tests given to students is a very strong step in the right direction.  We share the belief that social studies and science are extremely important and must remain a focus, but we would like to see these tests removed permanently from the 3rd grade in all schools.  We realize that Goochland’s schools are high-performing and will not qualify for this funding and flexibility this year, but we view your proposal today as a move towards offering this flexibility to all schools in the near future.  Furthermore, reading specialists are absolutely essential at the elementary level and we are supportive of your decision to provide funding for these vital positions and hope they become a permanent fixture in the Standards of Quality with funding for all schools in the future.

We also believe that Algebra Readiness is a key component in improving graduation rates and college success.  For this reason, Goochland implemented an initiative to have all 8th grade students complete Algebra and even with the new and more rigorous SOLs, 92% of our 8th graders met the mark.  We hope that your Algebra Readiness initiative will give us the support needed to reach those last few students and we thank you for making this a focus.

Lastly, one of our school board members, John Lumpkins spoke last month in support of your proposal to increase the teacher probationary period and fix the grievance process and we continue to support your efforts to reform teacher contract legislation while protecting the due process rights of our teachers.

Thank you again for coming to Goochland, we have a small gift for you to help you remember your time at one of the best schools in the world.

Dear Goochland Families:

I am writing to share some thoughts on the horrific incident in Newtown, CT, yesterday.  My heart goes out to the families of students, teachers and principals who did not return home from school.  We are all saddened on so many levels by this terrible situation, and cannot imagine the multitude of emotions being expressed throughout our community.  I hope that you will join me in keeping these families in your thoughts and/or prayers.

We believe that our schools are extremely safe and I just wanted to share a few of the proactive safety practices that we have in place, amongst many others, to support your children and our schools:

  • Regular drills, including lock-down drills, fire drills, and tornado drills.
  • The Sheriff’s department provides a School Resource Officer to the GMS/GHS Complex.
  • We regularly review our crisis management plans side-by-side with our safety-based policies and our code of conduct.  As recently as Wednesday of last week, the leadership team met to review our practices and suggest improvements for the future.
  • Regular meetings with school-based law enforcement and discussions with the Sheriff to share best practices.

We are fully invested in being comprehensive and thorough in our daily approach, and are always looking for new ways to be a better and safer school division for all.  I think as a nation we must all use this opportunity to reflect on whether we are utilizing best safety practices in schools and we will continue to do so.  

I know some of your children may be feeling anxiety as they learn the details from this school throughout the weekend.  We will do everything in our power to continue to provide a consistent, yet safe and supportive atmosphere in the wake of this tragedy.  We will ask our school psychologists and school counselors to hold “as needed” meetings to allow students to talk about their feelings in a developmentally appropriate way. I know that families throughout Goochland will be discussing this incident throughout the weekend and we urge you to contact us if you have any questions.


We are here for you if you need us.

We had an exciting week in our schools!!  At this time of year, many of our classes are focused on culminating events such as concerts, recitals, projects, etc.  There is an unbelieveable number of great things going on and we hope that you have been able to join us for a few of them.


At our school board meeting on December 11, Sheriff Agnew and the School Board recognized Mr. and Mrs. Rohrer for their bravery.  I wrote about their heroic efforts last week, but we wanted to thank them formally for everything they did.

Next, as you may all be aware at this point, the Goochland Bulldogs Football Team won their State Championship Game against Essex 41-14!!!!  Please congratulate our players and coaches on an amazing season and our burgeoning football dynasty!  Here is a picture from Mr. Newman’s blog, which includes a great write-up of the event.

Mrs. Gordon’s blog also has a great write-up, including a picture of me playing with the band.  I grew up playing in pep bands and can attest that our band made me extremely proud with their professional sound and phenomenal school spirit.

In addition to our athletic success, we are extremely pleased to announce that we also saw unbelievable academic success this week as well.  The Byrd Elementary School First Lego League Robotics Team, Granny’s Helpers, competed in the state championship in Harrisonburg last week.  Mr. Hopkins shared his thoughts on our success here.  A special thank you goes out to our coaches and volunteers:  Mrs. Hawk, Mr. Payne, and Mr. Carchman.  Congratulations on your robotic success!!  Here is a video Dr. Gretz produced to share more about the team and their presentation:



I already wrote about this on my blog, but Goochland was extremely honored to have our District 3 school board member, John Lumpkins, speak at the Governor’s press conference on education this week.  Mr. Lumpkins did a phenomenal job and we are looking forward to the education innovations shared by the Governor.

GCPS participated in the joint Local Schools and County United Way Campaign, raising almost $3300 dollars, about three times last year’s donation.  The Foundation donated an iPad2 raffled among donors who gave at east $5/month or a total of $60.  The winner, Mrs. Gordon, is announced here.  Congratulations to Mrs. Gordon and we thank everyone for their generous donations!

As the VHSL reorganizes some of its team/school configurations, GHS is now involved in the establishment of the new Conference 34.  This group will include the school divisions of Amelia, Bluestone, Brunswick, Goochland, Greensville, Nottoway, and Prince Edward.  At the first organizational meeting, Bryan Gordon was elected to serve as the Conference 34 representative and Mike Newman was elected as Vice-Chair.  Congratulations to Mr. Gordon and Mr. Newman!


Learning engagement has been the focus of our instructional team.  Over the past few weeks, I have seen more and more examples of what we think engagement looks like, but in the meantime, a perfect description of this write-up was shared by Dr. Geyer here.
  • Many of you know John Hendron and the work he has done to improve technology integration in our county.  For the second week in a row, we are proud do announce that he has won another award.  VSTE presented him with the “Making IT Happen” award, a very prestigious honor from his professional association.  Learn more about the award by clicking this to see a write-up by Dr. Gretz.  Also, please make sure to take a look at Mr. Hendron’s blog.  John talked about the future of books, you may remember that he’s author of a book on using RSS feeds in the educational setting.
  • Mr. Bruce Watson spoke at the school board meeting this week about his plans to bolster our school division’s Career and Technical Education program.  Mr. Watson did a phenomenal job.  His presentation is linked on our school board’s agenda page here.  If you have a moment we also want to highlight this piece on his blog.
  • Speaking of our school board meeting, we had a long discussion on enhancements we are considering for regular board meeting protocols.  Learn more about these enhancements, such as a potential student school board member, here.  One of those enhancements was implemented last week as we have begun a section of the meeting called “reflections.”  During reflections, we will ask students to attend our meeting and share the best practices that we are implementing.  Below is a picture from the Children’s Engineering Project presented by Ms. Beth Ferguson and her 4th grade students from Randolph Elementary School this week:



From Randolph Elementary School – for their G21 project, fifth graders are participating in “Alex’s Lemonade Stand,” an organization to raise money for childhood cancer.  The fifth graders made lemonade and baked goods, which they sold at our Winter Program.  They designed advertisements, planned the evening, and worked the stand.  They learned a lot about how to run an event.  They made $192.50!  This money will be donated to help find a cure for childhood cancer.  RES fifth graders are practicing the true meaning of the holiday season.

All of our schools held many other concerts and events, so I encourage you to check out the blogs from each of the schools.  I do, though, want to share a blog post by Mrs. McCay from Goochland Elementary School with an extensive number of pictures to share here.
Congratulations to all of our students and teachers on their excellent Winter programs!!!
  • Goochland High School held their Dance recital this week.  Thanks to Ms. Kuhns for these shots!
  • Goochland Middle School will have their Annual Winter Band Concert on Thursday, December 20, at 7pm.
As you can see, we have so many amazing things going on that I could not list them all in one blog post.  I am so proud to be a part of the community and work with our team and had an exciting first “official” week.  I already blogged about my plans for my first 100 days here, but I really just want to thank all of you for an amazing transition and for welcoming me and my family to Goochland!

District 3 School Board Member, John Lumpkins, was invited to speak as part of Governor McDonnell’s education press release today!  Click here to view the Governor’s press release, which includes a quote specifically from Mr. Lumpkins!!  Amongst other education innovations, the Governor proposed:

  • $59 million for teacher compensation
  • $15 million for strategic compensation
  • Increasing the probationary period from 3 to 5 years for teachers
  • Revisions to the grievance process
  • A Governor’s Teacher Cabinet

Lumpkins was asked to speak as the representative of the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA).  In his remarks, Mr. Lumpkins expressed support and gratitude for the Governor’s proposals.  The VSBA, Virginia Association of School Superintendents, Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals, and the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals all shared their support for the initiative.

Please congratulate Mr. Lumpkins on this amazing honor!  He did an amazing job and I was proud to see him represent Goochland so well!

Hello everyone! I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for your kind words and excellent support on my first day. I thought our transition phase over the past three months went extremely well and felt on my first day as if I had been here for years. The team that we have built already is exciting and I am looking forward to working with all of you.

Mr. Hendron and I filmed a video today regarding the transition and entry plan that the board and I created to guide my first 100 days in office. If you have time, please enjoy. We have also included a link to a two-page summary of the plan on the website here.

As always, if you ever need anything, please contact me!

They wake up earlier than most of us every day because they want to get to school well before the students. I’m sure they left the house that morning as they do every day expecting a normal day full of fun and learning with students. When they arrived at work and stepped out of their car, they saw a colleague being assaulted by a man nearly twice each of their size. Without hesitation Mrs. Rohrer, a fellow teacher, sprung to action and jumped on the man to stop her friend from further injuries. Mr. Rohrer also jumped in and eventually they pulled the man off her and the attacker fled the scene. The rest of the story has been well documented, he later turned himself in to the Sheriff’s office and the teacher was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover. Our Sheriff, Jim Agnew, has clearly stated that these teachers saved our colleague’s life.

In rural communities like Goochland, we like it quiet and we want the crime more often seen in urban areas to stay far away. In a flash, on December 5, our small community was shocked and saddened by a brutal attack on one of our teachers. In many areas, the attack and/or the school’s response to the matter would be the primary story, but due to the actions of Doug and Ann Rohrer, Goochland showed that we are better than that. They put themselves in harm’s way to save their colleague’s life. In time, people will likely forget the attack and all the sadness and concern we have about what happened, but I want to make sure that we never forget these heroes. Let’s remember what they did and allow it to inspire us. I believe that as teachers, we get into education to make the world a better place. The Rohrers were humble, they didn’t ask for recognition and turned down interviews with the local media. Their only statement was:

“It was only through prayer and the presence of God that we did what we were able to do. We were so grateful as well to be helped by a host of amazing GMS & GHS faculty family! Most importantly we thank God that our colleague will get well! We love her!”

I don’t know about you, but I am inspired. We work our entire careers to make the world a better place by improving the lives of children and the Rohrers have given me another example of excellent humanity. If heroism is the intersection of chance encounter and great character, then I hope that if I am faced with the same situation, that I make the choice to save someone’s life. As a superintendent and a parent, I want all children to have teachers like Mr. and Mrs. Rohrer, because if they can teach their students to have even half the bravery and character that they have, then I know that all the children in Goochland will live in a better world.

I woke up on Thursday and everything seemed better in this world. Because of these teachers, I want to be a better leader, a better father, a better husband, and a better teacher. As I have done “meet and greets” to get to know the community, I have told people that my goal is to learn what it is that is so special about Goochland. On Wednesday, it became obvious, it’s the people. For those of us with children in Goochland, just remember, your kids are being taught by heroes.

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.

It has been amazing week in our transition as I have had the great pleasure of meeting with our principals individually to learn more about each school.

We have set dates and times for brief faculty meetings to meet and greet all our excellent teachers and staff.  I will be visiting schools on the following days:

  • Randolph ES – November 13 @ 3:10pm
  • Goochland MS – November 20 @ 3:30pm
  • Byrd ES – November 27 @ 3:30pm
  • Goochland HS – November 28 @ 3:30pm
  • Goochland ES – December 6 @ 3:30pm

I am truly looking forward to meeting all of you and learning more about our school division.