Gov. Inslee is deeply saddened by the death of Pierce County Deputy Cooper Dyson, 25, 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 Monday, December 30, 2019. Deputy Dyson died in the line of duty when his patrol car crashed while on his way to back up other officers on an urgent domestic violence call.
Flags should remain at half-staff until close of business or sunset on Monday, December 30, 2019.
The IRS has created a new Payroll Form W-4 for 2020. Newly hired employees in 2020 or any employees hired prior to 2020 who wish to adjust their withholdings in 2020 must use the redesigned form.
This new design reduces the complexity of the process and improves the withholding system’s clarity and reliability. In the past, the value of a withholding allowance was tied to the amount of the personal exemption. Due to changes in law, currently you cannot claim personal exemptions or dependency exemptions. Allowances are no longer used for the redesigned Form W-4, therefore you cannot complete the old W-4 Form.
Key Points to Remember:
- New Form Name “Employee’s Withholding Certification.”
- No longer uses allowances which have been tied to the amount of personal exemptions.
- Form is now divided into 5 steps. Steps 1 and 5 are required. Steps 2-4 are optional.
- There are 5 worksheets in Publication 15-T (Federal Income Tax Withholding Methods).
- Only newly hired employees in 2020 or any employees hired prior to 2020 who wish to adjust their withholdings in 2020 must use the redesigned form.
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 is our newest honoree:
Monique Farland, Field Technician, Technology
I want to nominate Monique Farland for Everyday Heroes. She has spent hours working in my classroom to help me with a major software issue this week. She has been communicative, professional and gone over and above my expectations. Thank you Monique!
Submitted by Mark Zarate, Teacher, Olympia High School
How to nominate an Everyday Hero
- Email the Communications and Community Relations Department (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
The school district is offering several benefits packages that are supplemental to the new health care benefits through the state Health Care Authority. These benefits include Short Term Disability, Accident, Cancer/Critical Illness, Cancer Screening, Hospital Coverage, Long-Term Care, and Legal, ID Protection, and Pet Insurance.
Open enrollment has been extended through December 20. Benefits begin January 1, 2020.
The Payroll Office has brochures for each type of insurance. Please stop by to pick one up.
Carefully consider the following: The district will offer supplemental benefits now. This year only there are NO medical questions related to signing up for these benefits and NO waiting periods for pre-existing conditions. Supplemental benefits typically carry pre-existing conditions exclusions, but these are all waived during this introductory time. (Insurance companies typically waive questions when new benefits are introduced to employees).
In the future, employees may contact N.W. Benefit Advisors directly. In any future enrollment there will be medical questions to answer. Waiting periods and exclusions for pre-existing conditions WILL also apply next year. Take some time and consider these options now!
If you want more information you can contact Claudia De Alba at (425) 458-4988 or email@example.com. They have evening and weekend phone appointments.
The Washington State Supreme Court recently ruled, in a narrow 5-4 decision, in WPEA v. Freedom Foundation that public employees’ names and dates of birth are subject to disclosure under the Washington State Public Records Act. This means that OSD employee birthdates are no longer exempt and will not be redacted or withheld from public disclosure in response to a public records request.
Employee personal contact information such as home address, home phone, home email address and social security number are still exempt from public disclosure under RCW 42.56.250(3) when found in an employee file. However, should you choose to share this type of information in an email, it cannot be redacted or withheld as exempt.
For additional information about this ruling or any other questions concerning the Public Records Act, please contact me.
In the last month the Technology Department “Phish” tested our district staff with the following email. It probably looks very familiar, as the minute it went out our Help Desk and the Communications department received many alert calls about its suspicious nature.
We sent this message to determine a baseline risk potential for our district, as well as determine a need for further phishing training. Based on the results, we did fairly well as a district, coming in below the typical industry standard score of an organization our size. We had a “Phish Prone” score of 22.8% compared to the industry average of 27.7%.
Specifically in this message we measured whether or not a user opened the message (which is completely fine), clicked on the link, and if clicked, entered information. The information above is what was used to calculate our score. Based on our responses and score, we plan to provide more phishing education for you in the future, as well as occasional tests to measure our progress.
In this email, there were four items that recipients should have looked for:
- The sender and domain. Often times phishers can “spoof” (fake) domains so that emails look authentic. Even if the domain looks correct, is the user someone you are familiar with?
- The subject line is trying to convey a sense of urgency. Phishers often try to take advantage of urgent situations to get you act before you think through the situation clearly.
- The email is directing you to click on or open a link. Urgent emails directing you to click or open something should be a warning that more inspection is warranted.
- When you mouse over/hover the link, the URL doesn’t match. Typically when you hover over a link, in the browser window you will see the URL (web address). If the URL does not sensibly match the sender or content of the email, this should be a warning.
Phishing emails are not going away and our automated filters will occasionally let some pass through. If you encounter an email that you feel is suspicious, but are not sure, contact the Help Desk at Ext. 6172 and they can provide guidance.
For more information related to Phishing and Social Engineering, this video from Google for Education is a great place to start. Stay Safe from Phishing and Scams
This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about the Accessibility Checker in Microsoft Office.
The Accessibility Checker within Microsoft Office is a powerful tool that can be used as a final step in document creation. The steps involved in running the Accessibility Checker differ depending on your operating system, but are quite straightforward. Please note these steps are the same for both Word & PowerPoint.
- Mac– Go to the Review ribbon and select “Check Accessibility.
- Windows– Go to the File menu and under Info, select “Check for Issues” and then “Check Accessibility.”
The Accessibility Checker will open on the right side of the screen and will contain a list of issues located within the document. The quick-start guides located on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page cover each of these errors and how to resolve them.
When working with older Word documents, users may receive the error “Cannot check the current file type for accessibility issues.” To resolve this error, go to File & Save As. In the Save As window, select the File Type option and select “Word Document (.docx).” The Accessibility Checker should now be able to run without errors.
Accessible content from Microsoft Word documents can either be copied and pasted directly onto a SchoolMessenger or Schoology page, or exported as an accessible PDF.
As always, if you have any accessibility tips or questions, please feel free to reach out to the district’s Website Accessibility Specialist, Robert Hardy at extension 6105.
The Olympia School Board has unanimously agreed to place an Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy proposal before voters on the February 11, 2020 Special Election ballot.
The proposed levy is not a new tax. The measure on the February 2020 ballot would replace an expiring four-year educational programs levy approved by voters in February 2016.
School levies are the only locally approved ballot measures that directly pay for classroom and educational needs of students not funded by the state.
Levy funds would provide classroom and districtwide support staff not funded through state basic education such as paraeducators, school nurses, social and mental health supports and security staff. Funds would also provide enhanced education to students with disabilities and support middle and high school athletic and extracurricular activities, transportation outside of the basic school day, visual and performing arts programs, staff professional development, and maintenance and operations not funded through state basic education.
“This renewal levy continues the district’s efforts, as outlined in our Strategic Plan, to prepare students for success now and into the future,” said School Board President Joellen Wilhelm. It creates opportunities for our students to build knowledge and skills to meet their individual goals.”
The levy would raise an estimated $133.6 million over four years (2021-24), or an average of $33.4 million per year. The proposed $2.50 maximum tax rate for the Educational Programs and Operations Replacement Levy in each of the upcoming four years is one cent more than in 2020.
The estimated levy rate depends on the final dollar amount of assessed value of property within the school district. State law limits school districts to collect a maximum of $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for Educational Programs and Operations levies; the rate may be lower than $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation but it cannot be more than $2.50.
Using the projected rate of $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, the owner of a $250,000 home would pay about $52 a month, or $625 per year, for the replacement levy.
The proposed replacement levy tax, combined with the Olympia School District voter-approved school construction bonds and the technology and safety levy, would keep overall tax rates below 2020 levels. The total projected tax rate over the four years would be between $4.84 and $5.05 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which is less than the $5.15 tax rate in 2020.
For more specifics on the replacement levy proposal, including a list of frequently asked questions, visit the Levy 2020 webpage on the Olympia School District website.
All Olympia School District schools will be closed for Winter Break from Monday, December 23, 2019 through Friday, January 3, 2020. Classes resume on Monday, January 6.
During Winter Break, the Knox 111 Administrative Center will be open to the public on December 27 and 30, as well as on January 2 and 3. The office will reopen on Monday, January 6, 2020.