OSDEF offers new Mental Health Initiative Grant up to $1,500

OSDEF Logo with image of stick figures of an adult and children and the name of the Foundation beneath

The Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF) added a new Teaching & Learning Grant category this year specifically for projects and instructional materials that address mental health and social-emotional learning. The grant is part of the Foundation’s greater Mental Health Initiative, which also enabled the OSD Crisis Team to establish a Mental Health Resource Library this year. Details on a fall 2020 mental health training for OSD educators and a mental health event for the community, both of which will be funded by the OSDEF’s Mental Health Initiative, are forthcoming.

To apply for a Mental Health Initiative Grant, available in amounts of up to $1,500, visit the OSDEF Teaching and Learning Grants webpage. (Please note these grants cannot support professional development opportunities at this time. The OSDEF Board will explore this as a possibility for the 2020-21 school year.) Like all OSDEF Teaching & Learning Grants, the Mental Health Initiative Grant is available on a first come, first-served basis.

Questions? Contact OSDEF Executive Director Katy Johansson at (360) 596-6110 or info@osdef.org.

As a reminder, OSD staff interested in applying for grants should make sure their principal is aware of the request and that the request supports and does not supplant curriculum. If there are online elements to the grant request, please also be mindful of accessibility and confidentiality requirements.

Two more amazing staff recognized as our newest Everyday Heroes

Everyday Heroes Logo with the words: Celebrating OSD EmployeesEveryday Heroes is a regular feature in this staff blog. Remember to submit the 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 are our newest honorees:

Everyday Hero
Amanda Beers, College & Career Counselor/Yearbook Advisor, and Elianne Fisher, American Sign Language Teacher, Capital HS

I was absolutely delighted to learn Amanda Beers and Elianne Fisher have been working with their students to create daily news videos for Capital High School that include accurate closed captions. By captioning their video content, they are ensuring everyone in their community can enjoy the content. Beyond that, by instructing students on the process of creating accurate closed captioning they are setting them up for success in creating professional media content. Awesome work team! What a great example you are setting for your students and the district as a whole. We are proud of you, Go Cougs!
Submitted by Robert Hardy, Website Accessibility Specialist

Everyday Hero
Mike Schwegler, Carpenter, Support Service Center

We would like to nominate OSD’s Carpenter, Mike Schwegler, for this week’s Everyday Hero. Mike continues to impress us with the work orders he has completed for our school. He is talented, friendly, prompt and gets the job done. Recently, we requested some work to be done in our tiny health room. Since space was such an issue, he built drawers underneath our health room beds to store shoes, blankets and other supplies. He also helped us problem solve and installed a hanging rack for coats.

Space was also an issue in our staff room. Hand-built bench seating with storage space underneath. Problem solved!He can fix anything, and there are times, with the kitchen, that he has had to get very creative! He cares about his job, and his customer service is by far some of the best we have encountered. He is simply amazing!
Submitted by: Cindi Walker, School Nurse, Misty Wilen, Temporary Kitchen Manager, and Roxanne Schwegler, Administrative Assistant

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.

Tickets on sale now for OSD Night at the Tacoma Rainiers on June 1

OSD Night at the Rainiers graphic; information such as date and time are included in the articleTickets are available for the annual Olympia School District Night at the Tacoma Rainiers on Monday, June 1.

The Rainiers will take on the Salt Lake Bees (Utah) beginning at 6:05 p.m. Gates will open at 5 p.m. at Cheney Stadium, 2502 South Tyler St. in Tacoma.

All students, staff, families and the Olympia School District community are invited to join us for this fun-filled district event. Invite your friends and neighbors to join us and show support for the Rainiers and our school community.

Make sure you’re on time to watch OSD Superintendent Patrick Murphy throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Washington Middle School Choir will be performing the National Anthem.

Group Express tickets are $14 per person and include a reserved seat and ballpark meal. Group Double Play tickets are $19 and include a reserved seat, ballpark meal and limited edition Rainiers hat.

Purchase tickets

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Working with tables in Microsoft Office and Google Docs

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about working with tables in Microsoft Office and Google Docs. 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.

One way to make your content more accessible is to include tables alongside graphs or charts. Including a table not only enhances the accessibility of the document, it also allows data to be easily extracted for future use.

When adding a table, it is important to take a few steps to ensure the table is accessible.

Use True Tables

Be sure to use true tables within your documents, rather than tables built using the tab key. To add a table in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, go to Insert > Table and select your table size.

Mark table row and column headers

When reading a table, users will glance up or to the left to see column or row headers. These titles allow a reader to comprehend relationships within the data.

3 empty table examples. The first table contains no headers. The second table includes a header row. The third table includes a header row and column.

Unfortunately, unless table row and column headers are programmatically defined, they are inaccessible for a screen reader user.

Microsoft Office

To mark a column or row title in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint:

  1. Select the table.
  2. Go to the Table Design ribbon.
  3. Ensure Header Row and First Column are selected appropriately. Header Row signifies a row of column titles, while First Column denotes row titles.

If your table spreads over multiple pages, you will also want to ensure Repeat Header Rows is selected under the Table Layout ribbon.

Google Docs

Users of Google Docs can use Grackle Docs to create accessible tables:

  1. Open the Grackle add-on by going to Add-ons > Grackle Docs > Launch. The Grackle Docs add-on will launch on the right side of the screen.
  2. Grackle will recognize that a table has been included without a header row or column. The error will appear as “Tables must be tagged or marked as layout tables.”
  3. Click “+Tag” beside the error to enter the Tag Table menu.
  4. In the Tag Table menu, select the appropriate options from the “Mark first row as header” and/or “Mark first column as header” options.

Avoid blank or merged cells

If you are converting your final document to PDF, it is recommended to avoid blank or merged cells in your table. Blank or merged cells can confuse Adobe Acrobat, creating tables that are misleading or downright inaccessible. Populate blank cells with meaningful data, or with a placeholder such as inserting three hyphens in the cell. If your table has merged cells, usually contained within a header row, consider if the table can be broken into two simple tables.

For tips on working with tables in other software suites, please refer to the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page. If you have additional questions or tips, please reach out to Robert Hardy at extension 6105.

Thinking about retirement? Register now for March 5 seminar

Retirement Seminar FlyerThinking about retirement? Consider attending a pre-retirement planning seminar on Thursday, March 5 at the New Market Skills Center in Tumwater.

If you are within two-five years of retirement, consider attending this seminar to learn about your retirement plans (Plan 2 or Plan 3), medical/dental options, sick leave buyout (VEBA), Social Security Options, Medicare and how to utilize a retirement planner.

The Thurston County School Retirees’ Association, assisted by the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems, is hosting the seminar from 4-6:30 p.m. at the New Market Skills Center, 7299 New Market St. S.W. in Tumwater. Registration fee is $10 payable at the door (spouse is free).

Register on or before March 2 by emailing ronaldwcrawford1@comcast.net or calling him at (360) 236-9305.

Note deadlines for Travel Expense Reimbursement submissions

laptop computer with hand-held calculator and pencil

The following is a message from the Business Department about Travel Expense Reimbursement submission.

Per OSD Travel Expense Reimbursement procedures, submittals must be turned in within 60 days post travel.  This ensures that budget managers know how much budget capacity they have remaining because payments of past activity are being taken out of accounts within a predictable time period.  Below is a chart of cut off for submission dates:

Travel within the month of: December 2019
Deadline to Submit a Request: February 29, 2020

Travel within the month of: January 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: March 31, 2020

Travel within the month of: February 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: April 30, 2020

Travel within the month of: March 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: May 31, 2020

Travel within the month of: April 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: June 30, 2020

Travel within the month of: May 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: July 31, 2020

Travel within the month of: June 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: August 31, 2020

Travel within the month of: July 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: August 31, 2020

Travel within the month of: August 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: August 31, 2020

Department of Retirement Systems notice of public records request

Below is a copy of a communication emailed to all OSD employees on Friday, February 14

We want to make all OSD employees aware that The Seattle Times has submitted a public records request to the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) requesting information related to state employee personal information. DRS notified us of this records request and asked that we share the information with our employees.

The Seattle Times has requested information related to employee personal information for all members of the state’s retirement systems, including active and inactive members from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2019. DRS has notified us it will release the data to The Seattle Times on March 9, 2020. If you would like to seek injunctive relief, please see the instructions at the end of the DRS notice below.

If you are the subject of this public records request, no action is required of you. For more information, or if you have questions about the request, please contact DRS at 844-704-6780 or drs.pdrnotice@drs.wa.gov. You may also visit the DRS website.

DRS Notice of Public Records Request

“The Department of Retirement Systems has received a public records request that seeks information about all members of the state’s retirement systems, including all retirees and inactive members, for the period July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2019.

The requesting organization is The Seattle Times. DRS has requested and received a Declaration of Non-Commercial Purpose pursuant to RCW 42.56.070(8). A copy of this Declaration is available here.

DRS has reviewed the request and determined that the following information items are subject to disclosure under the state’s Public Records Act:

  • Full Name
  • City, State/Province, Country and ZIP/Postal Code
  • Date of Birth
  • Retirement System/Plan
  • Date of Entry
  • Service Credit
  • Annual Salary
  • Average Final Compensation
  • Date of Retirement or Withdrawal
  • Monthly Retirement Benefit
  • Retirement Type
  • Employee Transmittal Code and Description
  • Employer Name, City, State and ZIP Code

The Department intends to provide the information items listed above to the requesting organization on March 9, 2020.

If you are the subject of this public records request, no action is required of you. If you want additional information or have questions about the request, please contact DRS at 844-704-6780 or drs.pdrnotice@drs.wa.gov.

A Note about Injunctive Relief

Individuals who are the subject of a records request often ask if they can seek a court order to prevent the release of their records.

Under state law, an agency could be enjoined from releasing records if a court finds that the release “would clearly not be in the public interest and would substantially and irreparably damage any person, or would substantially and irreparably damage vital governmental functions.”

To enjoin DRS from releasing records in the current request, the department would need to be served with an injunction prior to the scheduled release date listed above.

State agencies cannot provide advice on whether to seek an injunction or whether such an attempt would be successful.”

‘Screenagers Next Chapter’ film screening set on February 19

Screenagers Next Chapter Poster; information is contained in articleAs part of the district’s commitment to providing awareness and education around digital citizenship and digital health and well-being, staff are invited to join students, families and the community in a showing of the next installment of “Screenagers.”

“Screenagers Next Chapter: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience” is a film that examines the science behind teens’ emotional challenges, the interplay of social media, and most importantly, what can be done in schools and homes to help students build crucial skills to navigate stress, anxiety and depression in our digital age. This film follows physician and filmmaker, Delaney Ruston, as she discovers solutions for improved adolescent well-being in the digital age.

The free screening will be followed by a discussion led by district Chief Information Officer Marc Elliott.

Join us in the Capital High School Auditorium, 2707 Conger Ave. N.W. on Wednesday, February 19 from 6-7:30 p.m.

Help our Communications team promote your school!

Zoom camera lens

The Olympia School District Communications Department is always looking for opportunities to highlight our schools on district social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube) and in our Spotlight on Success newsletter. The thing is, we need your help to clue us in on all of the exciting things happening in your buildings!

Is there an upcoming event, activity, performance or class lesson in your school that is visual and deserves highlighting? Let us know! A member of our communications team will come out and take photos/video and let the Olympia community see all the amazing work you and your students are doing!

To let us know about a possible opportunity in your building simply email our Communications Department at communications@osd.wednet.edu or fill out this Google form.

Thanks, we will be in touch in short order to coordinate a visit!

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Marking images as decorative

Olympia School District Staff Directory

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about when to label an image as a “decorative image.” 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 choosing an alternative text for an image, one option is to label the image as decorative. By marking an image as decorative, authors can indicate the image adds no additional information to the content.

The majority of decorative images are simply aesthetic flourishes such as decorative page breaks or content borders. While visually appealing, these images can create meaningless clutter for a screen reader user. By marking these elements as decorative, authors enable screen reader users to skip over them and focus solely on the content.

Beyond design elements, other images may also be considered decorative, so long as they do not add additional information to the page. For instance, consider the district’s staff directory. It includes profile pictures alongside a name. The likely alternative text for such an image would be the individual’s name, but that information is already included in the accompanying text. By marking the image as decorative, a screen reader user is saved the experience of hearing each name twice, and no meaningful information is lost.

While choosing the correct alternative text for an image is a decidedly subjective task, it can be helpful to keep in mind the content and function of the image. Why is the image included? Would the message be the same without the image? If so, consider marking it as decorative.

To mark an image as decorative in HTML, set the alternative text tag to two quote marks with nothing between them. This alt=”” is universally understood by screen reader users. Software suites, such as Microsoft Office 365 or Acrobat Pro, also allow the author to mark images as decorative.

For more information on crafting alternative text and other accessibility concerns, see the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.