OSDEF Automatic Payroll Deduction Campaign runs through November 30

OSDEF Automatic payroll deduction campaign informationSince its inception in 1998, the Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF) has been a proud partner of the Olympia School District, awarding nearly $2 million to projects and programs that support the OSDEF’s mission to remove barriers and enhance educational success for all OSD students. Last month, the OSDEF held its annual Principal’s Emergency Fund (PEF) Breakfast. This month, the OSDEF turns its attention to: wreath sales that help fund outdoor education at Cispus for OSD fifth graders; and its annual Automatic Payroll Deduction Campaign, which goes through November 30.

During the campaign, the OSDEF is asking OSD employees to consider automatically deducting $1 from their paycheck per month. Contributions will go where the need is greatest, whether that be Teaching & Learning Grants, Middle School Math Tutoring, the Performing Arts Initiative, the new Mental Health Initiative, or the aforementioned PEF or Cispus programs.

Employees who wish to sign up for the monthly OSDEF automatic payroll deduction may do so by downloading the attached form and returning a signed copy to the OSD Payroll Office. Forms may be sent through inter-district mail or dropped off in person at the Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia.

Forms are also available on the OSDEF website.

Flags lowered to half-staff October 24

Flags lowered to half-staffGov. Jay Inslee is deeply saddened by the death of Christian Johnson, Assistant Fire Chief for Okanogan County Fire District #3, and directs that Washington State and United States flags at all state agency facilities, including schools and support buildings, be lowered to half-staff in his memory on Thursday, October 24, 2019.

Assistant Fire Chief Johnson, 55, passed away on October 2, 2019, from injuries sustained in the Spring Coulee Fire, south of Okanogan.

Flags should remain at half-staff until close of business or sunset on Thursday, October 24.

Subscribe to school calendar events on your mobile device

Olympia School District - Student Art

Interested in being kept up-to-date with all the happenings in your school? We’ve got you covered! You can now “subscribe” to any of our school’s calendars, on your mobile, and know exactly what events are upcoming.

Gone is the need to constantly check your school’s website calendar or ask the front desk questions regarding the schedule of events. To keep track of upcoming events at your school, you can “subscribe” to any of our school’s calendars using Google Calendar – detailed instructions are below. 

We hope this is a useful tool. If you have any questions please feel free to call the Olympia School District Communications Department at (360) 596-6103.

Google Calendar Instructions

View YouTube Screencast Tutorial

Subscribing to a School calendar

  • On a desktop computer, navigate to the school homepage
  • Scroll down and go to the Calendar page
  • On the calendar, click the Share button located in the upper-right corner
  • Select “iCal/RSS Feed”
  • In the section titled “iCal Feeds,” click the “Copy” button. This will copy the URL of the calendar to your clipboard
  • Navigate to your Google Calendarhttps://calendar.google.com
  • At the bottom left, click the “+” button within the “Other calendars” menu
  • Select “From URL”
  • Paste the link copied in step 5 into the “URL of calendar” field
  • Click “Add calendar”
  • A calendar will appear at the bottom left, within the Other Calendars section
  • To change the name of the new calendar, hover over the new calendar and click the “Options for Calendar” button
  • Select “Settings”
  • Enter the desired name into the “Name” field

School calendar events will now appear within your Google calendar and can be viewed via an Android or iPhone device.

Unsubscribing from a School Calendar

  • Navigate to your Google Calendarhttps://calendar.google.com
  • Locate the school calendar under the ‘Other calendars’ menu at the bottom left
  • Hover over the calendar. An “X” will appear – select it
  • A prompt will appear confirming you want to remove the calendar
  • Select ‘Remove Calendar’

If you encounter issues with your Google Calendar, please reach out to Google Support.

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Creating Accessible Content

Blank canvas hung on wall

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about creating accessible content. 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.

As a new teacher in the Olympia School District, you will have heard a lot about accessibility. Here is a summary of what accessibility is, how it pertains to you, and how you can ensure greater access for everyone in our community!

What is accessibility?

Accessibility means creating digital content that can be understood by our entire community, including those with visual, auditory, cognitive, or motor disabilities. In general, this means we want to create content that works with assistive technology, such as screen readers or screen magnifiers.

What does this mean for OSD staff?

Put simply, all content posted to the web, be it SchoolMessenger or Schoology, must be accessible. While this may initially sound daunting, the workflow for creating accessible content is relatively straightforward.

Creating Accessible Content

There are many aspects to creating accessible content, but there are two elements that come into play most frequently:


True headings consist of section titles, which enable users of assistive technology, such as screen readers, to skim through a document. While section titles may be created visually using bolding, larger font sizes or underlining, these do not provide a programmatic accompaniment to the text.

In most software, creating a true heading is as simple as highlighting a piece of text and selecting the appropriate heading style. Guides for each piece of software can be found on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.

Alternative Text

A screen reader operates by synthesizing text into speech. When it encounters an image, it requires a description of the image to read to the user. This description is called alternative text. Good alternative text describes both the content and the function of an image, ensuring the meaning of the image is conveyed to all users.

Alternative text can easily be added in most  software programs – steps can be found on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.

Publishing Content

Once content includes true headings and alternative text, the author should consider how they intend to publish their content. There are two options, either posting the content directly to a page, or including the document as an attached PDF.

On-page content

Content published directly onto a webpage, either in Schoology or on a SchoolMessenger teacher page, is natively quite accessible. Content written in Google Docs can easily be copied onto one of these platforms. Content from Microsoft Word will require the images to be added back in and alternative text to be added.

Attached PDFs

If an attachment is preferred, the document should be saved as a PDF and then posted to the web. Accessible PDFs can be created using either Word or Google Docs. Word users can simply go to File > Save As > and change their file format to PDF. Google Docs users will need to use Grackle to create an accessible PDF. Detailed steps for both software suites can be found in the blog post Exporting to PDF, or on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.

Additional Resources

If you have questions about creating accessible content, please feel free to reach out to Robert Hardy (x6105), the district’s website accessibility specialist. The district also offers regular accessibility workshops at the Knox 111 Administrative Center. More information about these workshops can be found in the Professional Development Catalog, located on the Staff Development page of the Intranet.

Supplemental Benefits/SEBB open houses set Oct. 24 & 28, and Nov. 14

The school district’s Payroll department will host NW Benefit Advisors at the Knox 111 Administrative Center on Thursday, October 24, Monday, October 28 and Thursday, November 14 from 4- 7 p.m.

Barbara Dickson will be at Knox 111 to help Olympia School District employees decipher supplemental plans and their benefits to employees. Amy McGuire will also be on hand to answer SEBB questions.

View NW Benefit Advisors flyer

Remember to vote in the November 5 General Election

Red, white and blue VOTE logo with starsBallots for the November 5, 2019 General Election have been sent to registered voters and must be mailed or dropped off in postage-free ballot drop boxes by Election Day to be counted.

Ballot drop boxes are open 24 hours a day during elections and will continue to accept ballots until 8 p.m. on Election Day. For a list of drop box locations in the Olympia School District, visit the Thurston County Auditor’s Office Elections Division website.

There are three Olympia School Board seats on this General Election ballot:

  • Two candidates are vying for the District 1 seat: Maria Flores and Heath Howerton.
  • The candidates for the District 2 and District 4 seats are running unopposed. Justin McKaughan is vying for the District 2 seat that will be vacated by Director Joellen Wilhelm, and Hilary Seidel is running for re-election to the District 4 position, which she has held the past two years.

Following are voter registration deadlines for the upcoming General Election:

  • October 28, 2019: Deadline to register to vote online, by mail or by voter registration drive.
  • November 5, 2019: You may register to vote in person and update your voter registration address up until 8 p.m. on Election Day November 5. In-person voter registration is done at the Thurston County Elections Division, 2000 Lakeridge Dr. S.W., Bldg. 1, Rm. 118 in Olympia. Replacement ballots are also available at the Auditor’s Office.

To register to vote you must be:

  • A citizen of the United States.
  • Residing at your current address for a minimum of 30 days before Election Day.
  • A legal resident of Washington state.
  • At least 18 years old by Election Day.

Note: Citizens may pre-register to vote at age 16 and will be automatically eligible to vote and sent a ballot during the first election after their 18th birthday.

For additional voter registration information, visit the Thurston County Auditor’s Office Elections Division webpage. For more information about ballot items, read the Thurston County Voters Pamphlet.

National School Bus Safety Week is October 21-25

Elementary students board school bus at the end of the dayEvery year in October, schools across the nation recognize National School Bus Safety Week.  This year’s theme is: My School Bus, The Safest Form  of Student Transportation!

Thank you to our OSD Transportation department staff who make sure our students are transported safely to and from school every day.

Employee Assistance Program provides support to employees and dependents

Listing of EAP services as described in articlePersonal issues, planning for life events or simply managing daily life can affect an employee’s work, health and family.

“GuidanceResources” provides support, resources and information for personal and work-life issues. The program is company-sponsored, confidential and provided at no cost to employees and their dependents.

Services provided include:

  • Confidential counseling.
  • Financial information and resources.
  • Legal support and resources.
  • Work-life solutions.
  • Free online will preparation.
  • Help for new parents.

Learn more by viewing the OSD GuidanceResources information flier.

National Digital Citizenship Week is October 14-18


A person typng on a laptop

“Digital citizens think critically about what they see online, understand the benefits and risks of sharing information and balance screen time with other activities. But digital citizens aren’t born — they’re taught by teachers like you!”Common Sense Education

The week of October 14-18 marks National Digital Citizenship Week, a time when we focus intentionally on a topic that many of you discuss with your students every day. Our students will interact with digital media and devices in our schools, as well as in college, careers and daily life. This week is a great opportunity to engage your students, colleagues and families in important dialogue about digital citizenship and perhaps to incorporate a relevant activity or lesson in your classroom. 

Common Sense Education is a terrific resource for more information and lessons about digital citizenship, including foundational research, educator webinars, student activities and family tip sheets. Additionally, throughout the year our teacher-librarians are providing self-paced Common Sense Educator certification opportunities that qualify for Technology Professional Development and clock hours. 

More information can be found at: https://www.commonsense.org/education/digital-citizenship-week

Have a great Digital Citizenship Week!

Marc Elliott
OSD CIO, Technology