SEBB replaces December 9 mailing with letter containing updated information

Below is a copy of an email sent to all OSD employees on December 19, 2019:
The School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB) December 9 mailing to Olympia School District employees contained incomplete or incorrect information and could be missing dependents due to a programming error. SEBB is mailing a corrected version to all 2,751 employees that were affected statewide.
The new letter will include updated dependent(s) and health plan enrollment information. This letter replaces the December 9 letter. Employees should review the corrected letter and, if necessary, submit any appeals based on the new letter.
If your letter is dated something other than December 9, and your letter has the correct information that relates to your SEBB account, then no further action is necessary.

Flags lowered to half-staff December 30 in memory of Pierce County Deputy

Flags lowered to half-staffGov. 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.

New W-4 payroll form effective January 1, 2020

Calculator with accounting sheet and pen

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.

View the form on the IRS website

Congratulations to our newest Everyday Hero

Everyday Heroes Logo with the words: Celebrating OSD Employees

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:

Everyday Hero
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 (communications@osd.wednet.edu) 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.

Supplemental benefits; unique opportunity to enroll through December 20

Stethoscope with heart-shaped center designThe 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 claudia@nwbenefitadvisors.com.  They have evening and weekend phone appointments.

Staff birthdates are no longer exempt from public disclosure

Stack of binders full of paperworkThe 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.

Diana Crawford
dcrawford@osd.wednet.edu
(360) 596-6112

Phishing test: Did you catch the suspicious OSD email?

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.

Copy of email sent to staff as test phishing exercise: Email reads: To all employees, As part of ongoing efforts to maintain regulatory compliance we have updated our password policy and we need everyone to check their password immediately to ensure it meets our minimum security requirements. Please click here to do that: Check Password link. Please do this right away. Thanks! Email was sent from IT@osd.wednet.edu

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%.

Stats showing results of phish test to 1380 recipients: 1374 delivered, 970 opened, 271 clicked, 42 data entered

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Copy of phishing email sent to all staff with commentary on what to avoid in specific email categories, including: Email domain is spoofing a popular website or well-known organization; sense of urgency (Example: do this now); Tells you to click a link or open an attachment; Hover over the link. Link does not take you to the site the email content says it will.

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