New e-Library supports professional development

Laptop open with cup on one side and pencil holder and books and plant on other on a table

Olympia School District has launched a new e-Library for employees to use at no cost. This professional development library, purchased with grant money, includes full texts from publishers that can be downloaded onto an employee’s computer and/or Google Drive. At the outset, the library of nearly 600 titles contains information mostly relevant to teaching staff and school administrators. Plans are to expand the library collection to offer materials suitable for all certificated, classified and administrative staff.

Log into the Gale e-Library with your OSD Google Account

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How will I access the books? When can I access books?
A: The Gale e-Library involves a Single Sign On through OSD Google accounts.

Q: Can I listen to the books? Can I download the books?
A: Yes and yes. Employees can listen to the books online. You can download PDF versions of each chapter onto your computer and/or into your Google Drive. Educators can also link PDF chapters from Schoology.

Q: Can I print part of the book?
A: Yes, you can download the PDF version of any chapter (which looks just like the printed version in the book itself) and choose to physically print it off. This can be a particularly useful strategy when engaging a group of educators in a close read of a portion of a text or a diagram from a book.

Q: Can multiple people access the same book at the same time?
A: Yes, there is no limit to how many people can access a book at a given time nor to how many times a book can be accessed.

Q: Are people tracking which titles I access?
A: No. Just like the public library does not allow reports to be analyzed by the individual user, the Gale e-Library vendor does not provide OSD individual user data about what content is accessed by whom.

Q: What titles/books will I have access to? Will new titles be added from year-to-year?
A: Initially, the district has access to 581 titles. As funds allow and quality publications are released, Teaching & Learning will continue to expand this professional growth library to support all OSD educators (certificated, classified and administrative).

Q: What are some top titles I might be interested in checking out?
A: View a sampling of highlights you might be interested in on the staff intranet Teaching & Learning department Gale e-Library webpage. Remember to log in to the staff intranet using your OSD Google account (On the top of the Home page of the district website, click “Login.” Click the red rectangle titled “Sign in with Google.” Click the “Intranet” heading near the top of the OSD Home page, “Departments,” and “Teaching & Learning.” The Gale e-Library is among the department subpages located on the far left side of the page.

Top 12 most important financial policies

The following information is submitted by the OSD Business Office:

Below is an article published by Office of the Washington State Auditor on June 18, 2021. We are sharing as a means of providing the understanding of the foundation we use in making financial decisions and helping to ensure good financial management for our district.

According to the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), it’s a best practice for governments to formally adopt financial policies. We couldn’t agree more. Financial policies create expectations for government operations, provide a foundation for making financial decisions and help ensure good financial management.

Here are the top 12 we consider essential:

Budgeting and planning – Your budget process should be formalized in writing, with methods and roles and responsibilities for finance staff and department heads. In addition, long-term financial planning processes should describe how many years will be forecasted and how often the forecast will be reviewed and updated.

Resources:

Municipal Research Services Center (MRSC) Budget policies
GFOA Long-term planning and forecasting policy template

2. Cash management and investing – These policies are crucial for delegating authority, planning for sufficient operating cash, establishing investment strategies, and ensuring monitoring controls over these high-risk assets.

Resources:

MRSC’s Investment policies
GFOA Investment policy best practices

3. Fund stabilization and cash reserves – Every organization needs some money stored away for emergencies, future projects or commitments, or general working capital to meet operating needs. This policy directs cash reserve levels and annual commitments to create or replenish them.

Resources:

MRSC Fund balance and reserve policies
GFOA Example policies for reserves

4. Cash receipting – This policy is important so cashiers, and managers that oversee them, understand their responsibilities and what they should and should not do. It should address physical security of cash receipts, as well as who can approve steps and actions related to cash receipting (such as a new receipting location or accepting credit cards), and many other items.

Resources:

State Auditor’s Office Cash receipting best practices guide
GFOA Revenue control policy best practices

5. Capital asset management – A capital asset policy should provide the foundation for making important decisions about your assets, such as a long-term strategy for maintenance and repair. It should also cover various accounting aspects, such as setting a capitalization threshold, inventory requirements, disposition procedures, and asset replacement.

Resources:

MRSC Asset management policies
GFOA Capital asset management best practices
The Budgeting, Accounting, and Reporting System, contains requirements for a capital asset policy

6. Debt management – These policies establish the framework that guide how you will incur and manage debt, for example the types of debt instruments allowed, debt limits, the process to issue new debt including selection of service providers, and the management of current debt. These decisions can impact a government’s financial well-being for 20-30 years, so it’s important to have strategies in place.

Resources:

MRSC Debt management policies
GFOA Debt management policy best practices

7. Procurement – This policy provides much needed clarity on the requirements and processes for purchasing various goods and services. Many governments have statutory requirements establishing various dollar thresholds for procurement, and those that don’t should establish their own.

Resources:

MRSC’s Procurement policy guidelines
State Auditor’s Office resource, includes guidance for establishing policies over change orders

8. Disbursement systems controls policy – This policy should cover the process and control system for each major disbursements process, like payroll and accounts payable. It should cover controls over transactions from initiation to payment, as well as the monitoring that should take place.

Resources:

Coming soon! We will be including policy development tips in our payroll and accounts payable best practices guides.

9. Expenditure authorization policies – These policies address specific types of expenditures that are allowed and the rules surrounding them. These include policies like compensation, travel, employee reimbursements, and others depending on the programs your government operates. For example, if you provide advanced travel funds or have an employee recognition program, then you should have policies in place before you process this type of expenditure.

Resources:

MRSC Travel and expense reimbursement policies
MRSC Sample document library

10. Segregation of duties – Policy should spell out which duties should be segregated, and the additional oversight controls expected if or when key responsibilities can’t be divided among employees. This policy can be more general and describe the expected high-level authorization, recording, custody of assets, and reconciliation duties that should be separated. Or, it may be specific on what certain positions should not do.

Resources:

While we don’t have a specific resource to demonstrate what to include in a policy, you might find this resource helpful: State Auditor’s Office Segregation of Duties Guide

11. Conflict of interest/ethics – Officers and employees should not have a financial interest in any transaction they authorize or are involved with (in the course of their duties). Also, they should not unfairly benefit as a result of having their position. This policy should communicate expectations and give employees several ways to report concerns to the governing body. Washington state law provides the basis for these policies and is referred to in the following resources.

Resources:

MRSC Local Code of Ethics webpage
State Auditor’s Office’s Making it easy to report concerns

12. Document retention – This policy covers your government’s requirements and methods to manage documents from creation to disposal. Some financial records must be kept for a certain period due to state retention laws. As more records are stored in electronic formats, this policy is even more important to ensure the appropriate documents are identified, securely stored and retained for the proper timeframe.

Resource: MRCS’s Electronic records policy

New screencast on creating accessible content in Google Slides

The Communications and Community Relations department has put together a new screencast covering how to create accessible content in Google Slides. This ten minute video demonstrates building new slides, including data accessibly and adding captions to a live presentation. It also covers how to use Grackle to scan your documents for accessibility concerns and export a final, ready to post PDF.

Quick-start guides covering these tools, as well as how to create accessible content in other software suites, are available on the Website Accessibility Resources page. If you have questions or tips regarding creating accessible content, please reach out to Robert Hardy, the district’s website accessibility specialist.

Mark your calendar for all-staff Welcome Back September 1

Back to School spelled out in Scrabble tiles as part of welcome back staff message

The following is a copy of an email sent to all district employees on June 17 announcing a Welcome Back event on September 1, 2021:

Please mark your calendar for Wednesday, September 1 for an all-staff “Welcome Back” to kick off the 2021-22 school year. The morning will feature fun, food, district updates, and a guest speaker on promoting and maintaining student and staff well-being as we come out of the pandemic together.

Who: All OSD staff
What: Kick-off to the new school year
Where: Ingersoll Stadium
WhenSeptember 1; 9 a.m. – 12 noon. Lunch will be provided starting at 11 a.m., and employees may eat while visiting OSD department information booths on new and existing services for students, staff and families.

Note: OSD school buses will pick up staff at their schools or support buildings at about 8 a.m. to transport to Ingersoll Stadium. Employees who work at schools close to the stadium are welcome to walk to the event.

More information will be shared with each employee group in August. We look forward to celebrating the start of the school year with all OSD employees.

See you on September 1, and enjoy your summer break!

Celebration of Life for Gordon Chamberlain July 10 at OHS

Portrait photo of the late Gordon Chamberlain

A Celebration of Life in memory of longtime OSD educator Gordon Chamberlain will be held from 2-3:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 10 in the Olympia High School Commons/PAC. His family asked us to share this information with OSD staff.

Chamberlain passed away on May 2, 2020. He was well known in the community, both as an OSD educator for nearly 20 years and as a keyboard player in the Mick Hart and the Classic Vinyl Band.

He retired in June 2019 after working as a dean and teacher at Olympia High School. He also worked in various other leadership roles in the Olympia School District, including assistant principal/dean at Capital High School and Reeves Middle School.

Free school meals available through summer and 2021-22 school year

Students pick up lunches outdoors in front of school building at an OSD meal site

Free grab-and-go sack lunches, as well as breakfast for the following day, will be available at selected school and community sites starting on the last day of school Tuesday, June 22, 2021.

Note: June 22 is a half day of school, so breakfast only (no lunch) will be served on OSD school campuses. Grab-and-go lunches will, however, be available after school is dismissed at the five schools listed below (Centennial, Garfield, Hansen and Roosevelt elementary schools, and Olympia Regional Learning Academy).

Youth 18 years old and younger, and any current OSD student older than 18, are eligible to pick up a grab-and-go meal. No identification is required in order to pick up a meal and no pre-order of a lunch is necessary.

The summer meal program will be held at the following sites:

  • Centennial Elementary – 2637 45th Ave. S.E., Olympia 98501
  • Garfield Elementary – 325 Plymouth St. N.W., Olympia 98502
  • Hansen Elementary – 1919 Road Sixty-Five N.W., Olympia 98502
  • Roosevelt Elementary -1417 San Francisco St. N.E., Olympia 98506
  • Olympia Regional Learning Academy – 2400 15th Ave. S.E., Olympia 98501
  • Ashwood Downs Apartments – 1900 Ashwood Downs Lane S.E., Olympia 98501 (off of 18th Avenue S.E. and Hoffman Road S.E.)
  • Evergreen Vista Apartments -1209 Fern St. S.W., Olympia, 98502
  • The VFW Post 318 parking lot (across from Aztec Lanes) – 2902 Martin Way E., Olympia, 98506

Summer meals will be distributed from 12 noon to 12:30 p.m. on all weekdays except on July 5. 2021. No meals will be served on this day in observance of the Independence Day holiday.

2021-22 School Year

The Olympia School District will continue to offer free meals to all children through the 2021-22 school year as part of an extension of a federal program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Schools throughout the country can provide children with continued access to free meals through June 30, 2022, regardless of families’ ability to pay. The continuation of the program, which was first implemented at the beginning of the pandemic, is part of the federal government’s plan to reopen schools safely.

Families are still encouraged to complete an application for free or reduced lunches, as eligibility for free or reduced lunches could possibly lead to future benefits.

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement
View the USDA Nondiscrimination Statement on the OSD website. 

Skyward will be unavailable twice in July to support district updates

Abstract art of interconnected blue laser lights crossing

If employees need to access Skyward in July, please note that the system will be locked and unavailable on the following dates to allow for district information and program updates:

  • July 8-9: The Skyward system will be locked at 4 p.m. on July 8 and remain unavailable until the following morning, July 9.
  • July 26-27: Skyward will be locked at approximately 10 p.m. on July 26 and remain unavailable all day on July 27.

Thanks for your understanding.

School records management 101: Deciding the what, when and how

Stack of binders full of paperwork

School districts generate a variety of paper and electronic records on a daily basis that must be managed on a routine basis. Office administrators and other personnel have the responsibility to safeguard records and to maintain them in appropriate filing structures and locations. This ensures easy retrieval, in addition to meeting state requirements for document retention for both public and confidential records.

The benefits of having a good record-keeping process are:

  • The school district is able to fulfill its mission and obligation to its students, families and employees by having appropriate documentation of all public school business.
  • Cost-effective use of organizational resources required to generate, maintain and retain vast amounts of information.
  • Promoting open and accountable public services.
  • Student Educational and Health Records are safeguarded in accordance with applicable laws.

All public records generated during the normal course of school business are property of the State of Washington under (RCW 40.14.020).

For the purpose of determining whether to keep or to shred a record that falls under the scope of a public record, two criteria must be met (RCW 40.14.010):

  1. The record must be made or received in connection with the transaction of public business.
  2. Regardless of what format it is in (paper, digital, tape, disc, film, microfiche, email, etc.).

If you use your personal computer, phone or other device to conduct school district business, you are accessing and may be creating a public record.

Improper destruction, alteration, or falsification of public records can result in a $5,000 fine and is considered a Class B Felony punishable by imprisonment up to ten years, or both. (RCW 40.16.020).

How do I know what to keep?
State school districts and Educational Service Districts (ESD) in Washington typically utilize two retention schedules that the state publishes and updates on a frequent basis:

Local Government Retention Schedule (CORE) which covers typical “bucket” retention items generated by most all governmental agencies related to: Business transactions, HR, Payroll, Worker’s Compensation, Benefits and Health;

And

Public Schools (K-12) Retention Schedule which covers retention items that are specific or unique to public schools such as student records containing transcripts, grades, assessments, employee and student misconduct, permanent records and cumulative folders.

Retention schedules contain groups of records by subject that are assigned a specific number, a description and a retention timeframe. Records are also classified as “Essential for Disaster Recovery” or “Archival” indicating that the record may have longer retention or require special handling and preservation.

Federal Retention Schedules may apply for specific grant funded programs and projects or to support expenditures for certain district operations.

Things to consider when managing your school or department’s records
There are basically two options and one exception for managing your records from creation to the end-of-life cycle. When it comes time to purge your files, consider the following:

1.  Destroy records once the retention period has been met

(Washington State records retention schedules; Chapter 40.14 RCW Preservation and Destruction of Public Records; Chapter 434-662 WAC Preservation of Electronic Records; and Chapter 434-663 WAC Imaging Systems, Standards for Accuracy and Durability).

  • Electronic records created in a system must be maintained in that system throughout the retention period before they can be deleted.
  • Printing out and retaining a copy of the electronic record is NOT a substitute for the electronic record (WAC434.662.040).
  • Paper records can be scanned and uploaded to a digital records format in place of the paper format using the Scan & Toss approach.  To be eligible for Scan & Toss the following must be true:

A. You must determine whether the records are designated as “Archival” or “Non-Archival.”
B. “Archival” records must be appraised by the state before the district can destroy them; “Non-Archival” records may be destroyed after verification of successful scanning and upload to a digital format.

2.  Transfer the records for review and archiving at the district or state level

  • Some records with long retention periods such as student permanent records relating to attendance histories, academic summaries, and final transcripts which are maintained in various formats including cards, paper, microfiche and digital format.
  • Records with historical value that tell a story about a school or district are retained for special events and reference.
  • Records that contain information that would be essential in the event of a disaster.
  • Records of a legal nature or that document certain benefits, injury claims, or mitigate dangerous situations.

3. Legal Holds

  • There are times when even though a record has met its retention period, that it may need to be kept longer in situations where there has been litigation hold requiring the district to keep certain records until a resolution has been made.
  • In cases of an open public records request where documents exist that are beyond their retention period but have been the subject of a public records request and cannot be destroyed until a period of time after the request has been fulfilled

Best Practice when it comes to shredding documents
Never destroy any record without pointing to a retention number authorizing you to do so. When in doubt, consult your district’s Vital Records Manager first.

For helpful tips, guidance, and information consult the District’s new website at Records Management & Retention or contact David LaGarde, Digital Records Supervisor at dlagarde@osd.wednet.edu, or submit a help request to help-records@osd.wednet.edu.

Don’t miss Class of 2021 Livestreams

Photo of ORLA 2021 Graduates with Principal Celeste Waltermeyer and Asst Principal Kristy Grinnell outdoors  with graduates dressed in caps and gowns
Congratulations Class of 2021!

Dates and times have been finalized for all of the 2021 Olympia School District high school graduations (see below). Due to the nature of our non-traditional, social distancing graduation ceremonies, things continue to look a little different this year. That said, we are thrilled to be able to livestream all five of our graduations on the OSD Facebook page so that families, friends and community members can partake in the festivities.

Included below are graduation specifics for each school’s ceremony. Please remember, to view any of our graduation livestreams you simply visit the OSD Facebook page at the times indicated below. We will start the livestream roughly 15 minutes before each graduation ceremony kicks off.

Be sure to Like/Follow our page to receive automatic notifications when we ‘Go Live’. We hope you are able to tune in and enjoy the celebrations!

Meet this week’s Everyday Heroes

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 are our newest honorees:

Everyday Hero
Cody Malone, Substitute Bus Driver, Transportation

On June 8, 2021, a substitute bus driver was on his way to Centennial Elementary when the school bus was involved in an accident with a vehicle. The substitute driver, Cody Malone, just began his employment with Olympia School District and finished driver training only recently. His professional action and primary concern for the students on his bus are why I am nominating him for this week’s Everyday Heroes.  Cody’s calm reaction and attention to detail kept the situation from being any worse. Thankfully no one was injured on the bus.
Submitted by Robert Aaron, Bus Driver, Olympia School District Transportation Dept. 

Everyday Hero
Katie Anderson, Accounts Payable, Business Office

I would like to recognize Katie Anderson in the Business Office. I had a project put on me at the end of the day Friday. I called Katie in a panic, and she calmly helped me through it. It was about 4:08 p.m. by the time we were done. I heard somebody say it’s 4 Katie and she said, I know…….. I will be done in a minute. Thank you Katie. 1 for your knowledge to help me, and 2 for the calm you brought to my storm.
Submitted by Stacy Sharp, School Fiscal Officer, Capital High School

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.