Employees invited to give input on superintendent search

Employees are invited to complete a survey and participate in one of four focus group meetings to provide input as part of Olympia School District’s search for a new superintendent.

Superintendent Dick Cvitanich, who has led the school district for the past five years, will retire effective June 30, 2017.

Superintendent search online survey

Parents, students, employees and community members are invited to complete a superintendent search survey. The brief survey, which will be available online through Thursday, February 2, will assist the Olympia School Board and the superintendent search firm in developing a leadership profile and position description that will guide the board’s selection of the next superintendent.

The survey, developed by the superintendent search firm, asks questions about the district’s strengths and challenges, as well as professional qualifications and personal qualities desired for the next superintendent.

Respondents are asked at the end of the survey to identify the group that best represents their role and/or relationship to the district (such as parent, student or community member); however, no names are requested to keep the responses anonymous.

Survey responses are submitted online directly to Northwest Leadership Associates, the superintendent search firm selected by the school board to assist with the search process.

Copies of the survey are available in school offices and support buildings for those unable to complete online. The district will forward surveys turned in at schools and support sites to the search firm.

Take the online survey by Thursday, February 2

Employee focus group meetings

The district has scheduled four one-hour focus group meetings for all employees in the district. Information presented will be the same at all four employee meetings, so it is only necessary to attend one to provide input.

The four employee focus groups are scheduled on:

  • Monday, January 30: 7:15 – 8:15 a.m., Reeves Middle School, 2200 Quince St. N.E., Olympia
  • Monday, January 30: 7 – 8 p.m., Jefferson Middle School, 2200 Conger Ave. N.W., Olympia
  • Tuesday, January 31: 7:15 – 8:10 a.m., Washington Middle School, 3100 Cain Road S.E., Olympia
  • Tuesday, January 31: 5 – 6 p.m., Marshall Middle School, 3939 20th Ave. N.W., Olympia

Employees unable to attend one of the four focus groups arranged for staff are also welcome to attend one of two community focus group meetings along with members of the Olympia School District community. The community focus group meetings are scheduled on:

  • Tuesday, January 31: 11:30 a.m., Knox Administrative Center Board Room. The administrative center is located at 1113 Legion Way S.E., Olympia.
  • Wednesday, February 1: 7 p.m., Jefferson Middle School. The school is located at 2200 Conger Ave. N.W., Olympia.

Spanish-speaking families are also welcome to attend a focus group on Monday, January 30 from 5 – 6 p.m. An interpreter will be available at the meeting, which is co-hosted by the district and CIELO (Centro Integral Educativo Latino de Olympia). CIELO is located at 1202 Black Lake Blvd. S.W. Suite B1, Olympia.

During all focus group meetings, participants will be invited to share about the district’s strengths and challenges, as well as professional qualifications and personal qualities desired for the next superintendent.

The district has also launched a Web page on the district website to keep people up-to-date about the superintendent search process. Visit the superintendent search district Web page.

February 11 is 3rd Annual OSD Technology Fair and Learn All About Kindergarten day

img_0046Mark your calendars for two annual events that will be held on Saturday, February 11 at Capital High School.

3rd Annual OSD Technology Fair 

The free event, which is open to all students, families and the community, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the high school Commons, 2707 Conger Ave. N.W. in Olympia.

School booths will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will showcase a variety of ways that students and teachers use digital tools to support the learning process.

Fair visitors are also invited to watch student technology challenge presentations from 1-3 p.m. Each school has an opportunity to enter a student team in a technology challenge to be revealed the morning of the Technology Fair. Teams will work collaboratively on the challenge from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and present to the audience in the afternoon.

Elementary school students will present their technology challenge from 1-2 p.m. Middle and high school students will present how they responded to their challenge from 2-3 p.m.

Learn All About Kindergarten

dsc_0114The Olympia School District will hold its annual “Learn All About Kindergarten” informational event starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 11 at Capital High School.

If you know of neighbors or friends who have a child entering kindergarten in the Olympia School District in fall 2017, please share this information with them and encourage them to attend this free event. Capital High School is located at 2707 Conger Ave. N.W. in Olympia.

The event begins at 10 a.m. in the high school theater with a welcome by Superintendent Dick Cvitanich. Families will then have until 11:30 a.m. to visit school booths set up in the high school gym and learn about a variety of topics related to kindergarten and school in general.

Among other things, families may learn about kindergarten program options, riding the bus, how to register for kindergarten and how to use the district’s Family Access student information system to stay updated on everything from grades to lunch accounts. The school district’s Transportation department will also have a school bus on site for parents to learn about bus safety and rules, and to see the inside of the bus.

A reminder that children should be 5 years old by August 31, 2017 to be eligible to start kindergarten in September 2017.

The event is geared for adults of incoming kindergartners in the Olympia School District. Childcare is not provided.

Public Records Tip of the Month

Below is the Public Records Tip of the Month, submitted by Diana Crawford, the school district’s Public Disclosure Officer. This month’s blog post focuses on working from home.

Working from home
Many of us need to conduct school-related work while we’re away from our work computers. Best practice would be to conduct that work on your district-issued laptop if you have one. If you need to “bring” documents home to your personal computer, consider using a flash drive to transfer work instead of emailing documents back and forth from work to home.
Gmail tip
Using district Gmail from your home computer, or using a Gmail app downloaded onto a personal cell phone set up with your OSD Gmail account, makes it convenient to send and receive district email in a way that doesn’t compromise personal privacy and is archived and searchable by the district.

Safety Tip of the Week: Emergency Drills

This week Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, provides safety tips related to emergency drills. 

Emergency Drill Refresher

It’s the middle of the school year, and all schools in the Olympia School District are actively participating each month in required emergency drills. I thought now would be a great time for a refresher on why emergency drills are so critical.

The Importance of Emergency Drills

Unfortunately, emergency drills may be seen as a nuisance to regularly-scheduled daily activities, but they are paramount to being prepared.

Running an emergency drill is dependent on several factors: the building type, how many people occupy the building, identified potential risks and what kind of emergency is being tested. For example, an earthquake scenario in a one-story elementary school has different variables than a fire in a two-story High School.

Simulating an event is necessary to define the district and site specific disaster plans.

Emergency Drill Checklist

  • Communication channels on radios
  • Escape routes in classrooms
  • Meeting places that are on-site or off-site
  • Emergency lighting and signage
  • Flow of traffic
  • Coordination of emergency teams
  • Audible and visual alerts
  • Emergency equipment
  • Timing and Participation

Another important item to add to the drills are potential “wildcard” scenarios that cover unusual situations. For example,  what happens if construction blocks an exit or if a key person is out sick? Testing the limits of our district plans ensure we can accommodate many variables.

If you are interested in more information, the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has all  required emergency drills and relative information listed here.

Refining our district and site-specific emergency plans, and putting them through these tests, are part of the Olympia School District’s overall safety program. A successful drill is dependent on full participation from everyone in the district. Unfortunately, a complacent attitude during drills or allowing drills to become mundane can lead to confusion and risk when a real situation takes place.

Getting Back to Normal

While it’s important for our drills to test the school’s emergency procedures, it is equally important to get everyone back to their normal routines as quickly as possible.

Drills are important, and continued drills help make reactions become second nature and will, in the end, save many lives in the event of a real emergency.

Thanks for everyone’s continued participation as we head into the second half of the 2016-17 school year.

Open the latest issue of Spotlight on Success district newsletter

unnamed-4See the latest issue of the district’s Spotlight on Success newsletter, which features students, staff and other district news. This issue includes a message from Superintendent Dick Cvitanich, as well as articles and photos about high school on-time graduation rates topping 90 percent, classroom mini-building construction getting underway, a Garfield alumna creating an intricate hand-lettered mural, plans for the OSD Technology Fair and Learn All About Kindergarten day on February 11, and much more!

Open the latest Spotlight on Success newsletter

Employees rally to support United Way of Thurston County

untitledOlympia School District employees generously donated more than $13,000 to the United Way of Thurston County during this year’s annual campaign. Funds raised support programs across Thurston County that help children and youth learn and succeed, promote financial stability for families and individuals and improve people’s health.

Many of the programs funded by this campaign have a direct impact on students and families in our schools. Donations help fund local nonprofit agencies such as Community Youth Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB), Pizza Klatch, the YWCA, the South Sound Reading Foundation and many more.

Without funding from the United Way (made possible in part by all of us), many of these organizations would not be operating. Soon, OSD employees who donated at least $12 each month for 12 months will be receiving the Seahawks color-inspired Live United T-shirts. Wear them with pride; knowing the value of your generosity is making a huge difference in our community. Thank you all, and remember to Live United!

OSDEF has new phone number; 2017-18 grant applications due starting June 1

OSD-Logo-2014The Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF) has a new phone number. To reach Foundation Coordinator Beverley Sperry, please contact 360-596-6110 or email Sperry at bsperry@osd.wednet.edu. Be sure to update your contact list with the new number!

Also, please note that the Foundation will begin accepting new grant applications on June 1, 2017 for the 2017-18 school year. The Foundation is no longer accepting grant applications for this school year.

Safety Tip of the Week

This week Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, provides safety tips related to the use of space heaters.

Space Heater Safety

When the cold sets in, space heaters become a common fixture in the district. These space heaters can sometimes feel like a lifesaver in freezing temperatures and when snow is predicted.

When used properly, they are a welcome warm relief from the cold. However, if space heaters are used improperly, are not kept clear from combustible materials or are not functioning properly, they can cause fire, electric shock and may even produce carbon monoxide.

It is important to use these safe guidelines to help reduce the risk of fire or injury to faculty, staff, students and property.

  • Use of space heaters should not be allowed unless prior management approval is provided.
  • Units that have been listed or labeled by a nationally recognized testing laboratory such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories), CSA (Canadian Standards Association) or ETL (Intertek) are the only space heaters permitted for use.
  • Keep at least 36 inches of clearance around every space heater and only use them in areas free of flammable liquids and easily ignited or combustible materials such as paper or cardboard.
  • Proper placement of the space heater is important. Be sure it is not in a high-traffic area or in any area where it may become a tripping hazard.
  • If using an electric space heater, make sure electrical cords and plugs are not frayed or damaged. Always plug the heater directly into the wall outlet, and be sure the power cord is not crossing a walkway. Never use extension cords or power strips, as these could overheat and lead to a fire.
  • Be sure space heaters are never left unattended.
  • Make sure space heaters are turned off when you leave the room, and they should be unplugged at the end of the day.

Superintendent search gets underway

This week the Olympia School Board unanimously agreed to select Northwest Leadership Associates to lead the district’s superintendent search process. The board held a special meeting on January 10 to hear presentations by two search firms before making its decision.

Northwest Leadership Associates, based in Liberty Lake, WA, has conducted more than 220 superintendent searches in Washington, Oregon and Idaho in its 16-year history.

The firm has also led the search for six Washington and five Oregon Educational Service District superintendents; recently conducted executive director searches for the Washington Association of School Administrators and the Washington State School Retirees’ Association; and coordinated the search last spring for the new Capital High School principal.

Lead consultants Dr. Roger Rada and Dr. Glenys Hill plan to meet with district leaders later this week or early next week to begin the search process, including developing a timeline that will allow ample opportunity for staff, student, parent and community input from throughout the district.

Once dates are set for community forums and other opportunities for input, the district will communicate the information in multiple ways, including postings on the school district website, in publications, on social media, and through direct email communication to district families and employees.

Note: A new Web page has been created on the school district website to share information about the search to replace Dick Cvitanich, who announced last month he will retire effective June 30, 2017. Click here to visit the Superintendent Search Web page.

Voices of Children Contest entries due by April 1


Click image to enlarge

Please share the following with students ages 5-19 who are interested in submitting entries in the 14th Annual “Voices of Children Raised by Grandparents and Other Relatives” contest.

The contest is geared for children in Washington state who are being raised, now or in the past, by a relative other than their parents. The contest honors both the children, and the more than 45,000 grandparents and other relatives in Washington State who are raising them.

All entries must be submitted or postmarked by April 1, 2017. 

If you have questions, please call Family Education and Support Services at 360-754-7629, or Toll Free 1-877-813-2828. Contest sponsors include Family Education and Support Services, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Area Agency on Aging (for Lewis, Mason and Thurston counties), and TwinStar Credit Union.

Read more about the contest, including rules and submission guidelines.