SEBB clarifies recent mailing to employees

Last week, the Washington State Health Care Authority School Employees Benefit Board (SEBB) began mailing the SEBB Initial Notice of COBRA and Continuation Coverage Rights booklet to employees.

SEBB notified the district to share with employees that receiving the booklet does not mean that an employee’s coverage has ended. They wrote, “The notice is only to inform newly enrolled employees of their options if their coverage ends in the future. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused your employees given the current school closures due to COVID-19.”

This 13-page booklet, which explains employees’ available options for SEBB Continuation Coverage, must be sent by March 30 to all employees enrolled in SEBB coverage as of January 1, 2020 in accordance with federal requirements.

When an employee’s SEBB coverage ends, the agency will send the SEBB Continuation Coverage Election Notice booklet, which explains how employees and their eligible dependents can continue coverage under the SEBB Program.

Education Support Professionals Week is March 9-13

OSD School Board joins Bargaining Unit Reps for a photo during recognition of Education Support Professionals WeekThe Olympia School District is joining the state in recognizing Education Support Professionals Week March 9-13.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy read a proclamation during the February 24 Olympia School Board meeting recognizing March 9-13, 2020 as Education Support Professionals Week. He also presented copies of the proclamation to members of the district’s employee bargaining units.

Nearly 800 education support professionals work with and help children throughout our district. They are involved in nearly every aspect of education, including maintaining school buildings and school grounds; providing administrative support; preparing and serving meals; providing safe transportation; keeping school facilities clean; assisting in the classroom; providing a secure environment; providing information technology and media services; and offering other specialized services.

The resolution states in part that “education support professionals are instrumental in fulfilling the state’s responsibility to educate all students.” The one-page resolution, which is posted in every school and support building from March 9-13, also states that by supporting the learning environment, “education support professionals are crucial partners with teachers, parents, administrators and school boards.”

Please remember to thank an education support professional working in our schools.

Read the full Olympia School Board proclamation.

Congratulations OSD Teacher of the Year Elaine Rinker

OSD Teacher of the Year Elaine Rinker poses with CES Principal Shannon Ritter, Superintendent Patrick Murphy and OSD Board President Hilary SeidelCongratulations to Elaine Rinker, a teacher of special education students at Centennial Elementary School, who has been named this year’s Olympia School District Teacher of the Year.

Rinker’s colleagues erupted in applause when Superintendent Patrick Murphy made the surprise announcement during an impromptu staff meeting at Centennial Elementary. School Board President Hilary Seidel joined other district leaders and the entire Centennial Elementary School staff for the surprise announcement.

Rinker will be recognized at the April 20 Olympia School Board meeting. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia.

Group photo of all CES staff with OSD Teacher of the Year Elaine Rinker in the center

Learn the latest about coronavirus (COVID-19)

CDC Stop the Spread of Germs one-page handout that features six health tips: Avoid close contact with people who are sick; cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces; Stay home when you are sick except to get medical care; and Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.Get the latest information about coronavirus (COVID-19) on the Olympia School District website.

We know this is an evolving situation, and information can change quickly. We keep up-to-date information on a single webpage that includes copies of all communications to date. The page features email messages to families, staff and the community,  as well as links to documents including frequently asked questions, health bulletins, an OSD Pandemic Contingency Plan, hygiene handouts and a parent guide published by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Get the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) information

Travel procedure update

Please read the following travel procedure update from the Business Department:

To be in alignment with Washington State OFM and the Federal GSA, and to further clarify mileage travel claims, we have updated our travel procedure as pertains to in-district itinerant mileage.  Below is the Determination of Business Miles Traveled section of the Travel Procedure with the update highlighted in yellow:

Determination of Business Miles Traveled - Employees may be reimbursed for the mileage incurred from their assigned work location to the travel destination. If an employee departs from their assigned work location, mileage is calculated from their assigned work location to the destination point. If an employee departs from his/her residence, mileage is calculated from the residence to the destination point, with a reduction for normal one-way commuting miles. OSD encourages ride sharing whenever feasible. Exceptions: -(Highlighted) If staff works at various locations throughout the district, itinerant travel should be claimed from the site in which they begin their daily work, if different from their assigned work location. (End highlight) -If travel occurs on a weekend or holiday, mileage is calculated from the point of departure with no reduction for normal commuting miles.

Example:  An employee lives in west Olympia and their assigned work location is Pioneer Elementary.  They have a meeting at Jefferson Middle School first thing in the morning.  Following the Jefferson MS meeting, they travel to Madison Elementary for the remainder of the day. Their mileage claim for that day should be Jefferson MS to Madison Elementary. (The claim should not include Pioneer Elementary, because Jefferson MS was the site in which they began their workday.)

IPGG grant applications open

close-up-of-text-on-table-248360The K-12 Teaching and Learning Department is pleased to announce the opening of  Individual Professional Growth Grants (IPGG) for the period of June 1, 2019 to August 31, 2020 (only courses completed during this time frame will be considered).

Grant Applications Closes: April 1, 2020 by 5 p.m.
Award Notifications:  June 1, 2020
Documentation of Personal Payment Due:  August 30, 2020 (final date for submission)

For IPGG applications to be considered applicants must:

Examples of Professional Development the IPGG Grants can fund:

  • Conference Registration Fees
  • Workshop Registration Fees
  • Tuition for Coursework
  • Fees for National Board Certification

Supports for writing the IPGG grant application:
IPGG Rubric: Rubric for Prompts and examples of Distinguished, Proficient, and Basic answers.

IPGG Application Writing Support Sessions
Stop by anytime between these hours and bring your laptop.

  • Thursday March 5 from 3 – 4:30 p.m.; Knox 111, Room 271
  • Monday March 23 from 3 – 4:30 p.m.; Knox 111, Room 271

The IPGG is only available to active members of the OEA bargaining unit.

For the complete IPGG grant information and to apply for the IPGG grant:
IPGG Application Packet

If you have further questions about the application process, please call or email Christa Hilinski at (360) 596-8545 or Anne Gallagher at  (360) 596-8544.

Department of Retirement Systems announces March webinars

Person typing on a laptop computer

The Department of Retirement Systems’ (DRS) Education & Outreach team invites you to visit their DRS webinars webpage to sign up for the following webinars in March 2020:

  • DCP Distributions
  • Plan Choice
  • Plan 2: PERS, SERS, TRS
  • Plan 3: PERS, SERS, TRS
  • Purchasing an Additional Benefit (Annuity)
  • Early Retirement PERS, SERS, TRS
  • Getting Ready for Retirement
  • Applying for Retirement (tutorial of the online application)
  • Beneficiary Options at Retirement
  • Returning to Work After Retirement (PERS SERS TRS)

For date, time and link to join, please select the webinar you would like to attend. We recommend 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. If you encounter technical problems when joining a webinar, please call (360) 664-7930 for assistance.

Unable to attend a webinar? While the webinars are not recorded, many of the topics are available in video format by scrolling the video page of the DRS website.

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. Colorblind 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 grayscale.

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

Oly Bear Preschool registration runs March 9-18 for OSD employees

Oly Bear Preschool registration is from March 9-18 for OSD employees and their families.

Registration for the community begins at 5:30 p.m. on March 19.

Details about the preschool, including ages served, tuition, and more is on the OlyBear webpage on the Olympia High School website. For more information, contact Preschool Director Shelly Wilson at or (360) 596-7021.

To register, download. fill out and return the Oly Bear registration form to the preschool located at Olympia High School.

Download and fill out the Oly Bear registration form

Countdown to Kindergarten is March 7 at Capital High School

Countdown to Kindergarten info flyer. Information is contained in the articleParents and guardians who will have children in kindergarten in the 2020-21 school year are invited to learn about transitioning to kindergarten by attending this year’s Olympia School District “Countdown to Kindergarten” event.

The annual event will be held from 10-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 7 at Capital High School. The school is located at 2707 Conger Ave. N.W. in Olympia.

Countdown to Kindergarten begins in the high school theater at 10 a.m. with a welcome by Olympia School District Superintendent Patrick Murphy. He will be followed with a presentation by Executive Director of Elementary Education Autumn Lara.

After the presentation, families are invited to walk through an information fair in the school Commons. During the fair, families can meet staff from elementary schools around the district and learn more about:

  • Registering for kindergarten;
  • Using Skyward Family Access (the district’s Student Information System);
  • Riding the bus;
  • Alternative kindergarten program options;
  • Before- and after-school child care; and
  • Community partner services. 

Please note that this event is geared toward adults, although children are welcome. Child care is not provided.