Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Change is the only constant

Chesterfield County Schools announced today that Dr. James Lane, who has been superintendent of Goochland Schools since December 12, 2012, will take the top job there beginning July 1. Lane and his family will relocate south of the river.

The Goochland School Board met in special session today, March 22, to accept Dr. Lane’s resignation, effective June 22. In a press release distributed by the school division, School Board chair Kevin Hazzard, District 2, wished Lane the best in his new position.

Lane worked closely with an engaged and supportive school board to implement a wide range of initiatives, including expanding the use of technology in the classroom; creating the Goochland Tech career and technical program; and the Marine Junior ROTC program. During Lane’s tenure, Goochland Schools have been recognized for a dizzying array awards for excellence. He was recently named regional superintendent of the year, a major accomplishment for the leader of a small division like Goochland.

Lane kept his finger on the pulse of every facet of education in Goochland, from budget minutiae to play-by-play details of the recent championship girls volley ball game.

Hazzard said “Dr. Lane has done some amazing work over the past three and a half years in Goochland County. Our schools were in good shape when he came but it's clear that we've made what must be a decade of progress in the time he's been with us. In an ideal world, we'd keep Dr. Lane here for many more years.

But the leadership skills, professionalism and drive of anyone in Dr. Lane's league can't go unnoticed by large school divisions like Chesterfield that need his rare talents. And so while we're sad to see Dr. Lane go, we are in great shape and confident that we'll attract the right new Superintendent who can take us to the next level.

Moreover, with Dr. Lane continuing to lead schools in our region, we will benefit from his connections to our community for many years to come. The future is bright and our desire to build the very best school system in the Commonwealth here in Goochland County will move forward unabated.”

School board vice-chair Beth Hardy, District 4, said “Dr. Lane has worked diligently with the board to build an award-winning school division that exemplifies innovation in education. We will immediately begin our search for a leader who shares our focus on innovation to maximize the potential of every learner.”

It is hard to fault Lane for taking advantage of the opportunity to run a major school division. His enthusiasm, optimism, and work ethic set a high bar for those who follow. Excellent schools are an important component of a vibrant community and those in Goochland have achieved brag worthy status.

In the press release, Lane thanked the school board for its leadership, guidance, and mentorship. He contended that the board is “focused on the future” and expressed confidence that it would find a leader to “meet Goochland’s high standards.” He also expressed sadness at leaving Goochland.

Although the Goochland School Board extended Lane’s contract before the initial one expired, it must have known that the siren song of a larger school division would eventually lure him elsewhere.

One must wonder if some of Goochland’s deficiencies, including the lack of universal broadband availability, might have made the Chesterfield job even more attractive. Lane once contended that the dearth of access to high speed internet hobbles Goochland students’ ability to compete with their peers in the Commonwealth.

We wish Lane all the best in his new job and have confidence that our school board will find the right person to guide our school division on the next steps of its journey to excellence.

Lane’s departure following closely the retirement of County Administrator Rebecca Dickson on March 31 will bring significant leadership changes to Goochland. The supervisors and school board have big shoes to fill as they search for worthy successors.

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