District asks state for one waiver day due to February snow

Photo of state Capitol building with snow covered treesThe Olympia School District has submitted a request to the state asking to waive one of the school days that were missed in February when all schools were closed due to snow.

The school board unanimously agreed at its March 25 meeting to direct staff to submit the one-day waiver request. If approved by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the last day of school will be Friday, June 21. The waiver will not change any of the district’s high school graduation dates – all will proceed as scheduled.

The state has indicated it will respond to the district’s one-day waiver request within one week. If approved, families will be notified in a variety of communications, including direct email, website and social media platforms. Additionally, school year calendars posted on the district website will be updated accordingly.

Take the budget priorities survey by April 5

As preparation for the upcoming school year, the Superintendent and Board of Directors seek community, staff, parent and student input on the Olympia School District budget development. Due to recent changes in the state school funding system, the district is projected to face a deficit in the 2019-20 school year. We are hopeful that the state Legislature will address some or all of the causes, and the district may not face a deficit. Regardless, we seek community, staff and student input on instructional and operational priorities and values.

The deadline to complete the survey is 4 p.m. on Friday, April 5, 2019.

Nominations due April 15 for Employee Recognition Awards

CHS employee Jill Johnson poses with Principal Curtis Cleveringa. Johnson holds a wooden plaque engraved with her "The Unsung Hero" award.

Capital High School employee Jill Johnson, winner of the 2017-18 “The Unsung Hero” Employee Recognition Award, with Principal Curtis Cleveringa.

It is that time of year again! We are ready to recognize our employees who make the Olympia School District a special place.

Please consider nominating any of your colleagues for an Olympia School District Employee Recognition Award. We are asking that nominations be submitted by Monday, April 15 so that we can officially honor the winners at the May 6, 2019 Olympia School Board meeting. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Knox Administrative Center, 1113 Legion Way S.E., Olympia. This annual tradition has become a great way to honor the hard work of those around you!

Fill out and submit the online nomination form, which is sent to the Communications and Community Relations Department. If you have questions, please call the Communications and Community Relations Department at (360) 596-6103.

Nominations must be received by the Communications and Community Relations Department on or before 4 p.m. on Monday, April 15.

Thank you!

Congratulations to teachers who earned Common Sense Educator Certification

Common sense educator 2018-20 logoThirty-six teachers completed the first OSD cohort to earn Common Sense Educator certification by learning about and integrating elements of digital citizenship in their classrooms. The certification process includes readings and webinars, developing curriculum and other resources, and applying approaches in the classroom or family engagement events, followed by a written reflection on the process.

The objectives of the certification program include:

  1. Learn approaches to help students think critically and use technology responsibly
  2. Develop resources and teach lessons about digital citizenship
  3. Reflect on professional growth in the area of digital citizenship and media literacy

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a digital world and to supporting families and educators as they harness the power of media and technology to be a positive force in all kids’ lives. Common Sense Media provides a digital citizenship and media literacy curriculum that is widely used in schools, including the OSD library media programs and classrooms.

Congratulations 2018-19 Fall Cohort Common Sense Educators

Centennial Elementary School
Melissa Hayes
Heather Slater

Hansen Elementary School
Patty Arbuckle
Hana Spray
Luci Stafford

LP Brown Elementary School
Brooke Guthrie
Elizabeth Farrar
Laura Cummings

McKenny Elementary School
Valorie Paulsen
Mike Sjoboen
James Bremner
Greta Rieger
Nancy Hooper
Megan Anderson

Roosevelt Elementary School
Heather Randolph

Jefferson Middle School
Ann Marie Ratliff
Sarah Howe
Kristine Smith

Reeves Middle School
Jana Dean
Ross Phimister
Katie Quimby

Avanti High School
Nicole Winkley

Capital High School
Liz Shine
Aaron Street
Caroline Street
Allison McFadden

Olympia High School
Melissa Longnecker
Eric Jacobs
Carolyn Gilman
Christina Heikkila
Dawn Williams
Tania Albert
Jennifer Fabritius
Brenda Blancas
Ricky Gant

Olympia Regional Learning Academy
Anne Hankins


Accessibility Tip of the Week: Don’t rely on color alone to convey meaning

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about how to use color to enhance design — not drive it. Please call Robert with any accessibility questions at Ext. 6105. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

When designing content for the web, be sure not to rely on color alone to convey meaning. Use color to enhance design, but not drive it. Color blind or screen reader users may not be able to easily perceive differences in color, which can create confusion.

Take for example the graph below showing this week’s high temperatures in Seattle and Olympia.

High temps for Seattle and Olympia are shown, with Seattle represented by a blue line and Olympia represented by a orange line

While this may appear to clearly convey the data, looking at this graph with the colors removed quickly reveals problems. What line represents each city?

The same high and low temps line graph is shown, but with colors removed. Both Seattle and Olympia are represented by black lines, creating confusion.

By adding texture to the lines in the graph, line labeling can be clear, regardless of the colors being used.

Color Alone3 (1)

To make these graphs even more accessible, the author could also include the accompanying data table, as was discussed in the Providing Alternative Text for Complex Images blog post.

When working with text alone, additional differentiation could be added through bolding, underlining or the inclusion of accompanying symbols. These tools enable color to accentuate a message, rather than convey it. Always consider what information would be lost if the document was converted to gray scale.

If you have any accessibility tips or questions, please reach out to Robert Hardy (6105), the district’s Website Accessibility Specialist.


DRS announces updated webinar schedule

Pen points at calendar to show importance of keeping a date, in this case deadline for Open Enrollment is Sept. 28The Department of Retirement Systems’ Education & Outreach team has recently updated the webinar schedule with the following webinars:
For the date, time and the link to join the webinar, please select the webinar you would like to attend. It is recommended that you join the webinar 10-15 minutes in advance to test connection and sound. Please review How to Join a DRS Webinar for tips on accessing the webinar, audio and sending questions. Please be aware the audio comes through your computer so you’ll need speakers or a headset. The webinars are not recorded. If you encounter technical problems when joining a webinar, please call (360) 664-7930 for assistance.
If you are a member of one of the following plan 1 systems, you can watch an online video about your plan:
Thank you!

Flags lowered to half-staff March 28

Governor Inslee is deeply saddened by the death of Kittitas County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Thompson, 42, and directs that Washington state and United States flags at all state agencies, including schools and support facilities, be lowered to half-staff in his memory on Thursday, March 28, 2019. Deputy Thompson was killed in the line of duty on March 19, 2019.

Flags should remain at half-staff until close of business or sunset on Thursday, March 28.

Reminder: Next ‘Building Blocks For Success’ is set for March 25

Building Blocks for Success postcard, with QR code to register at bit.ly/2019BuildingBlocks and information contained in article.

Be sure to remind families about the March 25 Building Blocks for Success event, which will provide information and activities on the topic “From Families to Friendships” for families with children age 4 to 5.

The event will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. at Garfield Elementary School and is the second of three sessions to promote kindergarten readiness. Childcare will be available for children age 3 to 10.

Teacher SchoolMessenger webpage training rescheduled for April 11

Numerous computers in what appears to be a computer lab or professional development classThe Communications department has rescheduled a training for teachers interested in creating a teacher webpage on their school’s website in SchoolMessenger.

The teacher webpage training originally scheduled for Thursday, March 28
has been rescheduled for Thursday, April 11 from 4-6 p.m. The training will be held in Room 201B at the Knox Administrative Center, 1113 Legion Way S.E., Olympia. Registration closes on Monday, April 8.

Those who already have teacher webpages created and need a refresher in editing the pages are also welcome to attend. Note: This is not a Schoology training. Please bring your district-issued laptop. Desktop computers and Chromebooks will also be available.

Sign up for the class in pdEnroller.

If you are new to creating a teacher webpage and have not already watched the 1.5 hour Website Accessibility Webinar, you will need to do so prior to the training. The webinar is located in SafeSchools under the “Policy” section. Safe Schools can be accessed through the OSD Portal.

Teachers who take this two-hour training on how to create a teacher webpage and watch the 1.5 hour Website Accessibility webinar may use Technology Professional Development hours for 2018-19, General Staff Development hours for 2018-19, or Curriculum Rate at the 2018-19 school year rate. Time slips will be provided at the end of the training.

Please note, staff may only be paid once for the 1.5 hour Website Accessibility Webinar. Also, teachers who have already taken the 2-hour Teacher Page Training and want to take it again as a refresher may use Technology PD or Staff PD, but not Curriculum Rate, for reimbursement.

For additional information, contact the Communications department at (360) 596-6103.

Input sought in next step of Strategic Planning process

Teacher with two students during Hour of Code day at Garfield ElementaryOSD staff and community members are invited to comment on the next step of the school district’s Strategic Planning process.

Two meetings have been scheduled in late March, one during the day and one at night, to welcome the community’s thoughts on a set of draft “Student Outcome Indicators.” These proposed indicators will help drive the Strategic Planning process.

Your voice is important in this process, and we hope you can join us on either of the two community meetings:

  • Monday, March 25 1:30-3 p.m.; Knox Administrative Center Room 303, 1113 Legion Way S.E. Olympia.
  • Wednesday, March 27 6:30-8 p.m.; Knox Administrative Center Board Room, 1113 Legion Way S.E., Olympia.

Listed below are the board-approved Student Outcomes, as well as the draft indicators, which will be reviewed at the two community meetings. If you are unable to attend either of the meetings and would like to comment online, please share your thoughts on a Student Outcome Draft Indicators online feedback form. The deadline to submit comments is 4 p.m. on Monday, April 8, 2019.


Outcome 1: Be compassionate and kind.

  • Be aware of and respect one’s similarities and differences with others
  • Communicate respectfully, listen well and cooperate with others
  • Demonstrate awareness of one’s own thoughts and emotions and how they impact behavior
  • Express emotions, thoughts and impulses in constructive ways
  • Resolve conflicts and repair relationships

Outcome 2Have the academic and life skills to pursue their individual career, civic and educational goals.

  • Read, write and speak effectively for a wide range of purposes, including the interpretation and analysis of both literary and informational texts
  • Know and apply mathematics to a level of fluency that ensures a broad range of post-secondary opportunities and career choices
  • Use analytic and scientific principles to draw sound conclusions
  • Exit with a personalized post-secondary transition plan for work, career and/or college, and complete the first steps toward achieving post-secondary goals before graduation
  • Develop and use conceptual understanding, exploring knowledge across a range of disciplines, and engage with issues and ideas that have local and global significance
  • Problem solve using both creative and critical thinking skills
  • Demonstrate continuous growth across the disciplines to meet or exceed academic learning standards and work towards graduation

Outcome 3: Advocate for the social, physical and mental wellness of themselves and others and be hopeful about the future.

  • Communicate effectively
  • Develop knowledge and skills to be physically active, eat nutritiously and access reliable health information and services
  • Understand and apply principles of sound mental and emotional health and learn to identify signs of emotional health concerns such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts in self and others
  • Understand how and when to seek supportive mental and emotional health resources for self and others
  • Identify and develop personal strengths and interests
  • Develop the skills and habits to assess the role of technology and social media in their lives and distinguish between healthy and harmful use

Outcome 4: Have the skills, knowledge and courage to identify and confront personal, systemic and societal bias.

  • Be well versed in local, national and world history and understand how prejudice, racism and nationalism have contributed to conflict
  • Develop an appreciation of world cultures, which may include the understanding of the basic structure of another world language
  • Demonstrate the ability to recognize that biased attitudes expressed consistently over time gradually distort their perceptions until stereotypes and myths about people different from oneself are accepted as reality
  • Analyze multiple causal factors that shape major events in history
  • Evaluate the significance of information used to support positions on an issue or event
  • Analyze the validity, reliability and credibility of information from a variety of primary and secondary sources while researching an issue or event

Outcome 5: Discover their passions, be curious and love learning.

  • Broaden their perspectives and seek out multiple and various opportunities to explore new ideas, particularly those areas that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable to find their interests
  • Experience failure, setbacks and disappointment as an expected and honored part of learning
  • Understand and demonstrate the value of service in their community and learning by doing
  • Value the importance of pursuing creative opportunities, such as the arts and athletics, as lifelong enrichment

Outcome 6: Be critical thinkers who contribute to and collaborate with our local, global and natural world.

  • Participate on teams and know the power of teamwork
  • Demonstrate the ability to engage in inclusive problem solving
  • Express recognition of one’s own capacity to advocate for and contribute to local, regional or global improvement
  • Use digital tools to learn from and communicate with people and communities around the world
  • Gather, interpret and present information in culturally responsive ways

The Olympia School Board is expected to discuss the draft indicators and review community feedback in April. District leadership staff, working in partnership with schools, support buildings and the community, will then develop action plans and metrics for each of the six Student Outcomes.

We look forward to your input in this important work.