New protocol established for public comment at board meetings

Group photo of Olympia School Board standing in front of a wall of student artwork

The Olympia School Board has revised its protocol for hearing public comment at regular board meetings.

Effective in January 2023, OSD students, speaking on any topic, and members of the public wishing to speak to the school board regarding an item on the meeting agenda, will be given priority to address the board during “Public Comment: Items related to the agenda” at the beginning of each regular board meeting prior to the meeting’s reports.

Public comments on topics not included on the meeting’s agenda will be welcome during “Public Comment: Other” scheduled at the end of the meeting after individual board member comments and student representative reports.

Depending on the number of people speaking, each speaker on the public comment list will have up to three (3) minutes to speak.

Effective February 8, 2023, if more than 20 people sign up to speak, the board may shorten the amount of time to comment. The board president will review comment topics and determine a speaking order which may, depending on the number of speakers, include all speakers during the first “Public Comment: Items related to the agenda” time.

Board President Darcy Huffman said this protocol gives the board the opportunity to:

  • Increase efficiency by focusing on agenda items, allowing us to conduct board and district business in a timely, fair, respectful and responsible manner.
  • Prioritize student voice.
  • Respect staff in attendance who are there to present an agenda item.
  • Consider our student representatives’ time commitment.
  • Hear and value all community voices without time limits or interruptions.

To review the Audience Participation Policy, visit OSD Board Policy 1430.

Effective February 8, 2023, the superintendent’s office will accept sign-ups for the public comment list from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. the day before the regular board meeting, which is usually scheduled the second and fourth Thursdays of each month unless noted otherwise (holiday). Sign-ups to comment in-person or via Zoom will only be accepted through this sign-up process.

The final list of public comment participants will be posted by 5 p.m. the day before the meeting in BoardDocs on the specific meeting page in the “Opening” category under the Public Comment section.

Note:

  • Only the person who plans to speak to the board may request a spot on the list to speak. You cannot request a spot or speak at the board meeting on behalf of someone else.
  • If complete information is not provided, you will not be included on the list to speak. The Superintendent’s Office will not follow up to obtain correct information or tell you where you are on the list.
  • Public comments are not accepted during a board work session.
  • To request disability accommodations, please call the board clerk three days before the meeting date at (360) 596-6114. Persons with speech or hearing disabilities may call via Washington Relay at 711 or 800-833-6388.

Scenic photo of the week

“Green Curtain,” taken in the Waimea Valley on the island of Oahu, by Rachel McKaughan, Secondary Science Teacher, ORLA

OSD employees are encouraged to email the Communications department a photo of their artwork portraying nature (e.g., landscapes, sunrises or sunsets, an interesting cloud formation, a close-up of a flower) for consideration in this staff blog. Your image can be something you captured on canvas, in a photograph, on a textile, in a pencil, charcoal or pastel drawing, with wire — the possibilities are endless!

Please remember, you can be a novice or a professional. You can submit photos taken with your phone or a fancy camera. The goal is for as many employees as possible to participate!

Guidelines:

  • Nature/scenic images only (no people or pets please).
  • Attach a photo of your original art in jpeg or png format to an email and send to communications@osd.wednet.edu. The higher the resolution, the better.
  • Photos must be in-focus and cropped so the art is visible.
  • Include your name, title, work location, and if applicable, where the image was taken (you can name the city, for example, or provide even more specific details (e.g. sunset taken from Long Beach, WA). This information will be included with each image published.

Depending on the number of images submitted, we will print one or more in each issue of the staff blog.

Congratulations to this week’s Everyday Hero

Everyday Heroes Logo with the words: Celebrating OSD Employees

Everyday Heroes is a regular feature in this staff blog. Remember to submit names of employees districtwide who have done something deserving of encouragement and praise. Give a shout-out to one of your colleagues at your school or support building and watch for it to appear in an upcoming Everyday Heroes blog post.

Here is our newest honoree:

Everyday Hero
Gladys Larson – Paraeducator, Thurgood Marshall Middle School

Gladys Larson (or ‘OG’ as she is the longest-tenured TMMS employee) is a constant advocate for our students with disabilities and those who work with them. OG is a constant. Wonder where those cookies came from? OG. Curious about the unannounced spread in the break room? OG. Who’s that reading a test to students in her spare time? OG. Who’s maintaining commemoration gardens for those who made a difference at the school? OG. The little things add up and she does them (for both students and staff) all the time. She brings a perspective built on experience, IEP knowledge and genuine interest in finding ways we can improve how we serve kiddos on a daily basis. OG helps us make light of heavy situations and have fun in the process. If something needs doing, she does it, and never takes or seeks credit. Here are just a few of the “extras” OG takes on:

  • Stocks the faculty room with goodies
  • Acts as a voice for the students
  • Does the laundry for Physical Education
  • Checks on accommodations in GenEd classes daily
  • Provides accommodations in GenEd classes daily
  • Covers lunch breaks
  • Acts as a shoulder to cry on
  • Is always a partner to lean on

We could write a list that goes on forever. Instead, we’ll just shout it out. OG, you’re the best!
Submitted by the Thurgood Marshall Multidisciplinary Team

How to nominate an Everyday Hero

  • Email the Communications and Community Relations Department (communications@osd.wednet.edu) a few sentences, and no more than 200 words, about why the person deserves recognition. It’s easiest to write as if speaking directly to the colleague, such as “Thank you for helping with…” or “I really appreciated when you…”
  • Write “Everyday Heroes” in the subject heading of the email.
  • Include your first and last name as the person submitting the comments.
  • Include the first and last name of the OSD employee you are recognizing.
  • Include the job title and work location (school or department) of the person you are recognizing.

All submissions will be posted in this blog on a weekly basis and archived each week.

Certificated Teachers/ESAs: February 17 is deadline for early retirement and/or resignation incentive

Olympia School District Certificated Teachers/ESAs:

The Olympia School District and the Olympia Education Association offer employees an early retirement and/or resignation incentive. Since we are always anxious to post and find the best qualified candidates for openings, we are hoping to hear from you early if you are planning to retire or resign at the end of this 2022-23 school year.

The district is offering two paid days (submitted via timesheet in June through ETRS) at the end of the school year for any OEA member who provides a letter of retirement or resignation to the Human Resources Department on or before February 17, 2023.

If you have already provided the Human Resources department a letter of resignation or retirement, you have done what you need to do in order to receive the two incentive days. Remember: in June you must submit a timesheet through ETRS for the two incentive days. On the timesheet, write “Early Notice Incentive” and for a 1.0 FTE record 6 hours for each day — a total of 12 hours. If you are less than 1.0 FTE your hours submitted will be prorated based on your FTE. This incentive time is intended to be paid time so you can “tie up loose ends, pack and check out of your building.” The timesheet submitted through ETRS must be turned in by June 30 of this year to receive the early incentive payment.

If you submit your letter of resignation or retirement after February 17, 2023, you will not be eligible for the two incentive days.

As always, thank you for your dedication to the Olympia School District.

Flags lowered to half-staff January 21

Governor Jay Inslee directs that Washington State and United States flags at all state agency facilities be lowered to half-staff on Saturday, January 21, 2023. This is in memory of Clallam County Fire District 3 Captain Charles “Chad” Cate. Captain Cate died in the line of duty on Thursday, January 12, 2023.

Flags should remain at half-staff until close of business or sunset on Saturday, January 21, 2023, or first thing Monday morning, January 23rd.

A memorial service will take place on January 21st, at Sequim High School at 12:30 p.m.

Scenic photo of the week

Grouping of colorful river rocks at Pants Creek in Olympia near Capitol forest
“Rainbow River Rocks,” taken at Pants Creek in Olympia near Capitol Forest, by Wendy Couture, Custodial Supervisor & Safety/Risk Manager

OSD employees are encouraged to email the Communications department a photo of their artwork portraying nature (e.g., landscapes, sunrises or sunsets, an interesting cloud formation, a close-up of a flower) for consideration in this staff blog. Your image can be something you captured on canvas, in a photograph, on a textile, in a pencil, charcoal or pastel drawing, with wire — the possibilities are endless!

Please remember, you can be a novice or a professional. You can submit photos taken with your phone or a fancy camera. The goal is for as many employees as possible to participate!

Guidelines:

  • Nature/scenic images only (no people or pets please).
  • Attach a photo of your original art in jpeg or png format to an email and send to communications@osd.wednet.edu. The higher the resolution, the better.
  • Photos must be in-focus and cropped so the art is visible.
  • Include your name, title, work location, and if applicable, where the image was taken (you can name the city, for example, or provide even more specific details (e.g. sunset taken from Long Beach, WA). This information will be included with each image published.

Depending on the number of images submitted, we will print one or more in each issue of the staff blog.

Apply by April 1 for Ellison Education Grants

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The Ellison Education Grants were created to empower and support Washington State’s most effective, innovative and inspirational K- 12 public school teachers. Their goal is to support lifelong achievement and success of Washington State students. This is done by providing support to educators who design academic enrichment curriculum for students and or professional learning experiences for their current practice. The Ellison Foundation supports a classroom teacher’s expertise in understanding their own professional learning needs and the needs of their students. The Ellison Foundation has awarded 83 grants and $381,000 in the last six years.

The Ellison Foundation wishes to award at least 12 grants in the Spring of 2023 for the 2023-24 school year. Grant amounts range between $1,000 and $10,000.

Applications are accepted from January 9 through April 1, 2023.

To learn more about the “Ellison Education Grants,” please visit the Ellison Education Grants webpage.

Congratulations to this week’s Everyday Heroes

Everyday Heroes is a regular feature in this staff blog. Remember to submit names of employees districtwide who have done something deserving of encouragement and praise. Give a shout-out to one of your colleagues at your school or support building and watch for it to appear in an upcoming Everyday Heroes blog post.

Here are our newest honorees:

Everyday Heroes
Garfield Elementary School Nursing Staff – Joy Fulling, Tiffany Kulseth and Jennifer Orozco

We would like to nominate the nursing staff at Garfield Elementary School (nurse Joy, nurse Jen and health room assistant Tiffany) as they are our fabulous everyday HEROES. They make a great health room team and communicate well with us in the front office.  They greet each kiddo with kindness and empathy. They take the time to find out the source of the kiddo’s need. It can be providing a kiddo with a safe place, water/snack, a moment to rest, ice pack or a bandaid. They are kind and patient when dealing with families. They go the extra mile with families to provide other resources when needed. They have been known to help and treat staff who have become ill and/or injured on the job. They even stepped in to help cover the office when no subs were available. Garfield is so lucky to have them!!!
Submitted by GES staffers Kate O’Donnell and Michell Orwig

Everyday Hero
Melinda “Mindy” Swedberg – Physical Education Teacher, McKenny Elementary School

With the help of a grant and bike donations, Mrs. Swedberg has instituted a Traffic Garden at McKenny Elementary School this year. The “Garden” helps teach bicycle awareness, safety and encourages the lifelong fitness skill of riding a bike. She received bike donations from the community and then instituted bicycle programming into her curriculum.

Mindy, I am so grateful for your heart for fitness and teaching/exposing the students at McKenny to bicycle safety. I am particularly thankful for the way you recognize students who need a little extra encouragement and attention to take hard and scary steps toward learning to ride a bike, as well as other physical education and fitness skills. These accomplishments are something to be celebrated and I am proud to work with you. Thank you for giving your all in everything you do and really connecting to your students. You Rock!
Submitted by Marnie Prandi, OSD Physical Therapist

How to nominate an Everyday Hero

  • Email the Communications and Community Relations Department (communications@osd.wednet.edu) a few sentences, and no more than 200 words, about why the person deserves recognition. It’s easiest to write as if speaking directly to the colleague, such as “Thank you for helping with…” or “I really appreciated when you…”
  • Write “Everyday Heroes” in the subject heading of the email.
  • Include your first and last name as the person submitting the comments.
  • Include the first and last name of the OSD employee you are recognizing.
  • Include the job title and work location (school or department) of the person you are recognizing.

All submissions will be posted in this blog on a weekly basis and archived each week.

Sick leave buy back forms due by February 10, 2023

Individual in a shirt and tie using a pen to fill out a form at a table, seemingly signing a name at the bottom of the document

In accordance with RCW 28A.400.210 and WAC 392-136, school district employees meeting certain eligibility requirements may request pay for unused sick leave that has accrued during the prior calendar year (2021).

Employees that have over 60 days of sick leave, as of December 31, 2022, may be eligible for the cash out:

  • Only the sick leave days accumulated (earned) during the calendar year (2022) are eligible for the buy back. You can refer to your collective bargaining agreement (CBA) on how many sick days a year your union receives. For example if you earned 12 days and used 2 days you would be eligible to cash out 10 days total.
  • Remaining sick leave balance, after buy back, must have a minimum of 60 days after the cash out is completed.
  • If you select not to buy back any sick leave hours your sick leave will stay in your balance and will not be cashed out.
  • If you are eligible for cash out, depending on your employee groups’ vote outcome regarding VEBA and your total sick leave balance as of 12/31/2022 (more or less than 180 days), some employees will be cashed out monetarily and some employees will have a monetary amount added to their VEBA account. The cash out mechanism is governed by law and VEBA vote outcome; neither the employee nor the payroll office have flexibility with regard to the mechanism.
  • Mechanism: The payroll team will be happy to tell you which cash out mechanism would be used for your particular balance and group.  If you have any questions, please email agriffin@osd.wednet.edu. Please email us your questions by February 5 so that there is time to answer your questions and, should you choose, for you to apply for buy back in time for the February 10, 2023 deadline.
  • Sick leave buy back is paid at 1 to 4 ratio of your hourly rate, regardless of the mechanism of buy back.

If you have over 60 days of sick leave and believe that you are eligible for the cash out and would like to cash out your sick leave please fill out the attached form and return to the payroll office no later than February 10, 2023.  We will process your request and let you know if you are eligible or not.

If you are eligible for the sick leave buy back it will be processed with the February payroll.

Fill out the Sick Leave Buy Back Employee Request Form

Congratulations to this week’s Everyday Heroes

Everyday Heroes is a regular feature in this staff blog. Remember to submit names of employees districtwide who have done something deserving of encouragement and praise. Give a shout-out to one of your colleagues at your school or support building and watch for it to appear in an upcoming Everyday Heroes blog post.

Here are our newest honorees:

Everyday Heroes
Support Services and Transportation Department Staff

On behalf of the OSD Teaching & Learning Department (and educators districtwide) we would like to thank a few fantastic individuals from the Support Services and Transportation Departments.

In late November 2022, we reinitiated a project to reorganize and restructure the Instructional Materials and Surplus warehouse spaces, but we needed a team since it is such an extensive undertaking. Anyone who has walked through the warehouse over the last few years knows this space requires a lot of attention.

Frank Wilson and Paul Sierra asked their teams who wanted to help and Lisa Hall, Ricky Wells and Lucas Rasmussen raised their hands to assist. They put in a ton of effort and just went above and beyond over the last couple of weeks. Thank you Support Services, Lisa, Ricky, Lucas, Paul and Frank for your continued project support and partnership with our department. Classrooms around the district are already happier because requests for classroom materials are now getting processed. You are greatly appreciated!
Submitted by Inger Owen, Ryan Howland and the OSD Teaching & Learning Team

How to nominate an Everyday Hero

  • Email the Communications and Community Relations Department (communications@osd.wednet.edu) a few sentences, and no more than 200 words, about why the person deserves recognition. It’s easiest to write as if speaking directly to the colleague, such as “Thank you for helping with…” or “I really appreciated when you…”
  • Write “Everyday Heroes” in the subject heading of the email.
  • Include your first and last name as the person submitting the comments.
  • Include the first and last name of the OSD employee you are recognizing.
  • Include the job title and work location (school or department) of the person you are recognizing.

All submissions will be posted in this blog on a weekly basis and archived each week.