Attendance matters!

21740943_1613620872032506_3123462478455146253_oThe Olympia School District joins the State of Washington and the nation in recognizing September as Attendance Awareness Month.

Every school day counts and regular attendance is crucial to student success. Students who miss just 18 days a year, or two days per month are considered chronically absent. Chronically absent students are more likely to fall behind in reading and math and less likely to graduate from high school. Developing good attendance habits early sets the stage for success in high school, college and beyond.

Our schools and staff are committed to ensure all students fully benefit from their education by attending school regularly. We ask our parents, families and the entire community to join us and help our students be successful by making every school day count.

Awareness Month was started in 2013 by AttendanceWorks.org, a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance.

Safety Tip of the Week: Understanding air quality and your health

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares information about air quality, especially in light of the recent fires in Washington and related air quality concerns.

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Some days, the air is clear and smells fresh and clean. Clean air is air that has no harmful levels of pollutants (such as dirt and chemicals). However, on a hot day with no wind, the air can feel heavy and may have a bad smell. Sometimes, the air can even make your chest feel tight or make you cough. When too much dirt or too many pollutants get into the air, the air is dirty or smoky. Recently there have been many fires contributing to air quality concerns here and across the state.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a number used by government agencies to communicate how clean or polluted the air is and what associated health effects might be a concern. To make it easier to understand, the AQI is divided into six categories, each noted with a different color.

You can protect your health in three ways when the air is polluted:

  1. Check the AQI at AIRNow. The AQI uses color-coded maps and health messages to tell you how clean or polluted the air is. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. For example, green means the air is clean. Red means the air is unhealthy. You may hear about the AQI on TV or radio during weather forecasts, or you might see it on the weather page in the local newspaper. Download the AirNow App to get the AQI on your smartphone.
  2. If you’re outside when you know the air is polluted, you can protect your health by taking it easy. It’s important to exercise and be active to maintain good health. But when the air is polluted, you can reduce the time you spend exercising, walk instead of run, take frequent breaks, or go outside at another time or on another day when the air is cleaner.
  3. If you notice any symptoms when you’re outside like coughing, pain when you take a deep breath, chest tightness or wheezing, stop your activity and tell an adult. This is especially important if you have asthma.

Flag lowerings: Stay informed

Flag at half-staff in front of Knox Administrative CenterThe Olympia School District recognizes all flag lowerings directed by Gov. Jay Inslee. Flags are lowered to half-staff around the district, including all schools and support facilities, for a variety of observances/memorials.

A news article sharing the reason for the flag lowering is posted on the district and all school websites on the date of the flag lowering. The information is also shared on the Olympia School District social media pages. Families routinely ask why the flags are lowered to half-staff, and you can direct them to both the district website or social media.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest in district communication.

Don’t delay: September 29 is deadline for Open Enrollment

Benefit Open Enrollment continues through September 29. Be sure to sign on to the online benefit resource portal UPoint on the school district website. The Washington Education Association (WEA) is offering Aetna and UnitedHealthcare medical plans, and there will be one Kaiser Permanente medical plan. Open Enrollment information is posted on the Benefits Web page.

Need help signing up for benefits?

The Payroll department is hosting open labs with staff onsite to assist you with researching and signing up for your benefits. You do not need to preregister for these sessions. Open Labs will take place at the Knox Administrative Center:

  • September 20: 4-6 p.m. Room 308
  • September 28 & 29: 3-6 p.m. Room 308

Clock hour transcripts for OEA

​Beginning this 2017-18 school year, the ESD is no longer automatically printing clock hour transcripts and submitting to Human Resources.  If you have clock hours that have been paid for and need to be reported to Human Resources, please follow the instructions below to request and purchase an official transcript and ESD will email one to you:
Go to www.esd113.org. Click Classes and Workshops, then Transcripts. Follow the links to Enroll and purchase the transcript. Please call Tiffany Harmon at ESD 113 if you have any questions or concerns.  She can be reached at 360-464-6700.

Applications due October 20 for elementary teacher mini-grants

Information about $200 mini-grants for elementary teachersThe Thurston County School Retirees’ Association is accepting applications for its $200 elementary teacher mini-grant program for the 2017-18 school year.

The deadline to apply for the elementary mini-grants is October 20, 2017. The grants are designed to provide an opportunity for elementary school teachers to enhance the education of their students.

The application is available on the Thurston County Retirees’ Association website.

For additional information, contact Jo Edwards at fastwalker1000@comcast.net. Thurston County School Retirees’ Association is a chapter of the Washington State School Retirees’ Association.

Reminder: Open Enrollment continues through September 29

Mark your calendar! Benefit Open Enrollment continues through September 29. Be sure to sign on to the online benefit resource portal UPoint on the school district website. The Washington Education Association (WEA) is offering Aetna and UnitedHealthcare medical plans, and there will be one Kaiser Permanente medical plan. Open Enrollment information is posted on the Benefits Web page.

Help is available during open enrollment

The Payroll department is hosting open labs with staff onsite to assist you with researching and signing up for your benefits. You do not need to preregister for these sessions. Open Labs will take place at the Knox Administrative Center:

  • September 13: 4-6 p.m. Room 303
  • September 20: 4-6 p.m. Room 308
  • September 28 & 29: 3-6 p.m. Room 308

Safety Tip of the Week: Register for the Great Washington ShakeOut on Oct. 19

This week, Wendy Couture, the district’s safety and risk reduction manager, shares some tips about heading back to school safely.

The Great Washington ShakeOut!

Participating in the Great Washington ShakeOut is a good way for the Olympia School District and the local community to get prepared for an earthquake emergency. Practicing together as a voluntary nationwide earthquake drill will help prepare the district in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Great Washington ShakeOut is scheduled on October 19, 2017. Schools or individuals may register for the ShakeOut any time prior to the event. In addition, if a school is unable to do the drill on October 19, it can choose a date that works for that building and may still register and log the drill for participation.

Between now and October 19:

Earthquake hazards vary from region to region, but most of Washington is prone to earthquakes, and the Olympia Region definitely is a hazard area. You may be anywhere when an earthquake strikes — at work, home, school or the store.

How we prepare now in advance of an earthquake will impact the response and recovery at the time of the event. The ShakeOut is organized to help get organizations and our district up-to-date by reviewing and updating our emergency preparedness plans and supplies.

EVERYONE in Washington state can participate in the Great Washington ShakeOut and is encouraged to do so!

The ShakeOut drill is scheduled for 10:19 a.m. on October 19. The main goal is to help Washingtonians prepare for a major earthquake, so don’t miss out on this annual opportunity. 

Tips when planning a school fundraiser

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The following are some helpful tips if students or staff plan to hold a fundraiser this year. Natural disasters that cause widespread damage, such as the recent hurricane Harvey in Texas, often inspire students or staff to want to help by raising money or items for those most affected. Olympia is no exception, as we are such a giving community.

Please remember these tips from Business Manager Justin Lanting when scheduling a fundraiser. Many of these tips are addressed in the ASB Handbook — a comprehensive guide on how to donate and collect funds (see page 28).

We want to make sure any school fundraising event is successful, while also following proper accounting procedures:

If interested in supporting an organization such as an account set up for disaster relief, consider the following:

  • Fraud is rampant during a crisis. Scam artists often set up donation accounts or websites that are specific to a need. Research the website by searching on the Better Business Bureau or state vendor registration. The IRS website also has a search feature, “Exempt Organizations Select Check,” through which people may find qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible. For additional information about fake charity scams related to Hurricane Harvey specifically, view this IRS news release.
  • Do your research! Learn about the organization you plan to donate to and, when possible, find one that contributes 100% of the donated funds to the cause.
  • If the donation administrator for the organization selected does not accept a credit card payment; you must request a vendor setup in Skyward to issue a check to the vendor after your donation drive.  A W-9 is required.

Things to remember for a school donation drive:

  • Donation drives are considered fundraisers in Washington.  Necessary paperwork is required to be completed.  Approval by Student Council is required.
  • Money must be deposited nightly. Per RCW, schools are required to deposit all funds within 24 hours of receipt.
  • Money can be deposited into a current account (no need to setup a special account).
  • A separate item is required in InTouch to track money donated for a donation drive. When a donation drive is complete, print a detailed revenue report. This can be the source document for issuing a check/warrant.  If paying by credit card, use an item report to show funds have been deposited and are available for donation.
  • If paying by credit card, make sure to factor in the additional cost of processing by the card. The total amount donated cannot exceed the donated amount unless additional monies are allocated via Student Council approval.
  • Some schools have asked if they can accept cash or check donations in a box on the office counter. An OSD-sponsored collection box is not allowed; however, school PTAs may collect donations in a locked drop box, clearly labeled PTA.
  • The “Donate Now” OSD Web portal is an option for individuals wishing to make donations or for a school to use to collect donations. Once the donation drive has been approved by the school, it can be posted in Donate Now (the Donate Now link is on the bottom of every district and school website Home page). This allows our community to contribute via an electronic payment portal with no fee to the donation drive. If interested in this option, contact Business Services at Ext. 6120 to add a specific donation drive to the Donate Now portal.
  • Staff donation drive: The district does not have the ability to collect donations from staff and contribute as a districtwide group to a donation drive. Rather, staff may donate to a student donation campaign, donate themselves to a trusted charity, or collect donations among themselves separate from a school- or district-sponsored activity. If you have questions about staff donations, please contact the Business Office at Ext. 6120.