Reasonable assurance letters to be sent to specific classified employees by May 27

Human Resources will be issuing reasonable assurance letters to classified employees that meet the following criteria:

  • Your work calendar has less than 260 work days per year and
  • You have a continuing position for the 2021-2022 school year

Letters will be issued via Skyward no later than Thursday, May 27, 2021. Classified employees will need to check their OSD email for notification on when their letter is available for review and signature. Once available, employees need to log in to Employee Access on Skyward. There will be a pop-up with a link to the letter and instructions for each step.  Letters need to be reviewed and signed no later than June 15, 2021.

You may find step by step instructions on how to access and sign your RA Letter by clicking here.

If you plan to resign or retire prior to the 2021-22 school year, please complete the Notice of Separation form and send it to the Human Resources department. Please note: the employee is still responsible for notifying the administrator.

For questions, please contact:

Laura Emmil
Classified Contracts Coordinator (Elementary Paras, Bus Monitors, Knox Paras, OEAPA & OTPAA)

Aja Dale
Classified Contracts Coordinator (Secondary Paras)

Stephanie Brownell
Contracts Specialist (Transportation, Maintenance, Grounds & Food Service)

Employee Recognition Award winners to be honored at May 27 board meeting

Spotlights hanging from ceiling

Congratulations to each of the 2021 Olympia School District Employee Recognition Award winners, who will be honored at the May 27 school board meeting.

This annual awards program is designed to recognize employees from throughout the district in several categories. All employees districtwide were invited to send in nominations, and a screening committee reviewed the entries and selected the winners.

The school board will recognize the winners at the start of the board meeting on Thursday, May 27 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in person and on Zoom. View meeting details and Zoom links.

The Innovator
“Changes Making a Difference” – Any staff member who demonstrates innovative strategies that significantly improve the district mission.”
Mimi Arnett, English Language Specialist, (Garfield, Madison, McKenny elementary schools)

The Champion of Differences
“Celebrates Diversity” – Any staff member who, by their actions, celebrates the values and differences of individual groups.
Melissa Wood, English Language Specialist and Department Chair (Jefferson, Marshall, Reeves and Washington middle schools)

The Unsung Hero
“Goes the Extra Mile” – Any staff member who continually gets results with little or no fanfare.
Jane Lane, Paraeducator, LP Brown Elementary School

The Coach
“Supports Others” – Any staff member who plays a unique role in enabling others to excel.
Paul Rae, Teacher, Coach and Department Head, Olympia High School

The Dream Team
“Above and Beyond” – Any group of staff members working together to help students succeed in or out of the classroom.
Roosevelt Elementary School LEAP and Academy Team

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
Cara Barkis, Paraeducator, Capital HS

On Friday, May 21, as I was leaving the Capital High School parking lot, I observed Cara Barkis walking around the parked cars and the grass picking up trash. I rolled down my window and jokingly asked her if she was in trouble. Her comment back to me was “No….. I’m just tired of seeing all the trash around here.” What the world needs right now is more people like Cara. Thanks, Cara, for helping make Capital look better.
Submitted by Stacy Sharp, Fiscal Officer, Capital High School

How to nominate an Everyday Hero

  • Email the Communications and Community Relations Department ( 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.

Procurement Card MOU: What is it and why is it important?

Laptop with zoomed in hand typing and hand holding a credit card with phone and ear phones laying next to computer

Purchasing with a district procurement credit card is convenient and has become part of our regular practice; however, there are important terms and conditions to which all OSD employees are expected to comply. Prior to using a district card you must have fully completed the MOU (Memo of Understanding) for Procurement Card. This MOU provides the employee with the list of required terms and conditions, and by completing it the employee acknowledges agreement with these. We want to remind employees of three specifics areas of concern with the use of procurement cards:

Purchases shipped to non-OSD locations

ALL purchases MUST BE SHIPPED to an OSD entity; never to a personal address. The state auditor perceives shipments to non-OSD locations as misappropriation. It opens up the possibility of defrauding the district, with the possibility of the purchased items never being used by the district at the desired location. We know this has not been the intent in the past, but for the district’s and your protection it is imperative that purchases are always shipped to an OSD location.

ECommerce vendor purchases made with procurement card

Orders from ECommerce vendors must be completed via Skyward; never with a district procurement card. Skyward has been set up so that ordering from specific vendors of high volume use can be transacted through the requisition process in Skyward.  Ecommerce vendor orders should ALWAYS be placed through the requisition process in Skyward. This procedure, in addition to streamlining our invoice processing, also ensures that orders only ship to an OSD location, and meet competitive pricing established for us by these vendors.  The current Ecommerce vendors are Staples, Office Depot, Dell, Grainger, Amazon, KCDA, The Home Depot, Really Good Stuff, Waxie, Childcraft, Frey, Sax, School Specialty and Sportime. If you are unfamiliar with how to place an Ecommerce order in Skyward, we have a video we can share with you. Just reach out to Business Services so we can send you this video.

Procurement cards used to purchase gift cards, postage stamps or cash equivalents

The card cannot be used to purchase gift cards, postage stamps or other items considered as cash or cash equivalents. Per Washington State Auditor, these items are considered as cash, and as such, a gift of public funds.  In addition, in the case of gift cards, the IRS requires that gift card value be reported as income when given to employees of the district.

These three items have been audit findings in the past, therefore we must disclose to the state auditor as non-compliance. We understand that there are sometimes extraordinary circumstances and we are always here to assist you with problem solving prior to purchasing. If you have questions, concerns or the need for problem solving, please call Business Services at extension 6120 or send a help ticket to

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Making documents POUR

Tea being pouredThis week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about making documents POUR. Please contact Robert with any accessibility questions. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

When considering the accessibility of a document or piece of content, it can be easy to focus on the technical details. Are the alt tags included? Is this form fillable? What is lost in this approach is the understanding of the end user and how they will interact with the content.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide a framework for document review that is less technically focused, and instead focuses on the experience of the end user. This framework can be helpful when considering the life cycle of a document and deciding upon the best route toward accessibility compliance.

The framework is called POUR. Documents must be:

  • Perceivable – Can the document be easily perceived? Are there contrast issues, or is text locked in an image? Are data tables included alongside graphs?
  • Operable – Are interactive elements set up in a way that enables interaction? For most text documents, this is not a concern, but it does arise when creating forms or designing websites. Interactive elements must be operable with both a keyboard and a mouse.
  • Understandable – Is the language as clear and concise as possible? Consider the intent of your message and remove additional clutter.
  • Robust – Can the content be accessed across a wide range of devices? PDFs are a robust document solution for desktop and mobile devices. The SchoolMessenger and Schoology platforms have also been designed to be robust.

Taken together, these principles provide a non-technical framework with which to consider your content.

If you have any questions or tips regarding creating accessible content, please reach out to Robert Hardy, the district’s website accessibility specialist.

Managing your piece of the Pii

Computer keyboard with red caution cone resting on keyboard

This is the next in a series of monthly articles about digital records management from Digital Records Supervisor David LaGarde.

Personally Identifiable Information (Pii) 2CFR 200.79 is an integral part of all business operations, especially public schools whose records incorporate student files, financial documents, transportation records, health records and more.

Information that would disclose the personal identity of an individual to whom the information applies, or that could be reasonably inferred by either direct or indirect means, falls under the scope of (Pii).

Records containing (Pii) are generated everyday during the normal course of business in the district through paper and electronic records. Desktop files, Emails, Skyward, Alchemy, TreeNo and dozens of other programs and applications are all mediums used to generate and house data that must be managed and stored on a daily routine basis.

What constitutes Personally Identifiable Information?

Pii is defined as information:

(a) that directly identifies an individual (e.g., name, address, social security number or other identifying number or code, telephone number, email address, etc.) or

(b) by which an agency intends to identify specific individuals in conjunction with other data elements, i.e., indirect identification. (These data elements may include a combination of gender, race, birth date, geographic indicator and other descriptors).

Additionally, information that would permit the physical or online contact of a specific individual is the same as personally identifiable information(Pii). This information can be maintained in paper, electronic or other media.

School employees who come in contact with data containing (Pii) are considered stewards of these records when conducting school business. It is the collective responsibility of all school employees to protect data that may contain sensitive information during the course of conducting school business or activities whether it be in paper, electronic or other district provided technology mediums. The important factor with all data is to remember that only individuals who have a “need to know” in their official duties capacity should have access to sensitive student or employee information not subject to The Washington State Public Records Act or other laws governing the disclosure of Public Information.

Consequences of inappropriate access or sharing of Pii

The loss of (Pii) can result in substantial harm to individuals, including identity theft or other fraudulent use of the information. Because regular school employees and contracted staff may have access to personally identifiable information concerning individuals and other sensitive data, we have a responsibility to protect that information from loss and misuse. There have been an increasing number of lawsuits over data breaches and sharing of (Pii) in recent years and interestingly enough, the legal landscape has focused on organizations keeping too much data which can lead to greater opportunities for records to be compromised.

Best Practices:

5 ways to protect (Pii) in daily records management

  1. Simply take inventory

Identify the documents that you create in your daily workflow that contain Pii (these can be paper or electronic). Know what records are housed in other systems or locations and avoid reproducing paper copies if you can manage your work electronically. Printing out documents creates additional opportunities to open the door to improper disclosure issues and also creates additional storage concerns in determining how a paper copy is to be managed and whether it must be saved or archived.

2. Downsize

Let’s face it. Paper costs a lot to purchase, as does the process to copy, store and dispose of. Paperwork is slowly becoming obsolete. Keeping too many records poses a higher risk of a data breach and can complicate the process of retrieval when records are needed.

Knowing the records retention policies for your assigned workflow, and getting yourself in the habit of managing only those documents you need to keep is part of a “Best Practice” of daily task management philosophy.  Identifying documents that you can easily manage and file electronically, as opposed to printing out, scanning and resaving will greatly reduce generating unnecessary paperwork and your need to manage it a second or subsequent time. The less times a document is handled, the less opportunity for improper disclosure of (Pii). A good place to start is to ask yourself, “Is there a value in printing this document?”

3. Protect

Take precautions to secure paper and electronic records containing Pii by restricting access. When you leave your work area, be sure to lock your computer and close files in use. Manage your emails to delete those without a direct business relevance. Create folders to sort and store emails and documents for business reference and learn to redact information when forwarding items to other parties where sensitive information is not pertinent. Keep sensitive information locked waiting for shredding so it is not left out for others to see. Shred bins should not be left open or be kept in areas where sensitive information can readily be accessed.

4. Don’t hoard

Learn to save your records to labeled folders on your computer to move routinely to archival records as you create them or get in the habit of filing records electronically during your processes. Process paper documents regularly that need to be shredded according to established OSD procedures. This is done by shredding documents if they contain any (Pii), recycling or discarding/recycling if there is no (Pii). This can be done on your own terms but should be routinely managed to avoid accumulating records under your desk for shredding.

5. Map your files

Are you prepared to reproduce a document if needed? The reality is that nearly 90% of stored records are never referenced again once they are filed. However, the 10% that are needed should be readily accessible. If you have a sound records management procedure and workflow in place, this should never be an issue. Consistency and continuity is key, and knowing what gets saved, where it should be filed, how to properly label the file for search and retrieval are all essential.

If you have questions about Pii (Personally Identifiable Information) in regard to student records, please contact Chief Information Officer, Marc Elliott, at Ext. 6172.

For additional information on records management, please contact Digital Records Supervisor David LaGarde at

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is May 20

Laptop and alarm clock on a white table

This Thursday, May 20, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. It is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our accessibility work and how it impacts people within our community.

As usability specialist Steve Krug said:

“The one argument for accessibility that doesn’t get made nearly often enough is how extraordinarily better it makes some people’s lives. How many opportunities do we have to dramatically improve people’s lives just by doing our job a little better?”

It is a powerful statement that cuts through the occasionally dry language of headings and alt tags and reminds us of the human impact of our work.

If you would like to learn more about how to create accessible content and positively impact our community, check out the Accessibility Resources page on the district site. We have a range of guides available demonstrating how to create content more inclusively.

Thank you, as always, for your hard work and dedication to ensuring our services are available to everyone within our community.

Tech PD offered in May and June

Numerous computers in what appears to be a computer lab or professional development class

Looking for Tech PD as the year winds to a close? Hours for the 2020-21 academic year must be completed by July 31, and the Tech TOSAs are offering a number of synchronous and asynchronous professional development opportunities. See this schedule of current workshops. You may also see offerings in pdEnroller by selecting the region “Olympia” and searching for “TPD”. 

Stay tuned for asynchronous summer Tech PD offerings to be announced at the beginning of June!

Join us for the annual OSD Ice Cream Social May 25 on Zoom

OSD retires fill ice-cream cups with toppings during a prior year's ice cream social

Mark your calendars for the Olympia School District’s Virtual Ice Cream Social from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25 on Zoom.

This year’s online event will honor district retirees and recognize the Olympia Education Association Teacher of the Year.

All are welcome to attend this special recognition event to honor our outstanding educators. Those who have announced to date are listed on this Ice Cream Social program.

The following is the information to access the Ice Cream Social on Zoom:

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Or One tap mobile :

    US: +12532158782,,87185065017# or +16699006833,,87185065017#

Or Telephone:

    Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

        US: +1 253 215 8782 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656

Webinar ID: 871 8506 5017

    International numbers available:

Accessibility Tip of the Week: Creating a Table of Contents in your documents

Stack of binders

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about using true headings to create a table of contents. Please contact Robert with any accessibility questions. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

True headings are an essential aspect of accessible document design, allowing screen reader users to skim a document. Beyond enhancing accessibility, true headings also enable authors to insert an interactive, accurate and professional table of contents within their documents, creating a better user experience for every reader.

To insert a table of contents, authors must first use heading styles within their document. More information on using true headings can be found on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page, but basically, you’ll want to highlight section titles and select the appropriate heading type from the top menu.

In Microsoft Word, heading styles may be located within the Home ribbon.

Microsoft Word screenshot. The Home ribbon is selected and the Heading styles menu is shown.

In Google Docs, heading styles may be located in the top menu bar.

Google Docs screenshot. The Heading menu is highlighted in the top menu.

Headings should not be used consecutively, but rather, should be nested within one another. For instance, a document title would be marked as a Heading 1, chapter titles would be marked as Heading 2 and subchapters would be marked as Heading 3.

Once headings have been used, inserting a table of contents is straightforward, both in Microsoft Word and in Google Docs.

Microsoft Word

  1. Place the cursor where you would like the table of contents to appear.
  2. Select the ‘References’ ribbon.
  3. Select ‘Table of Contents’ and pick a style of table of contents.

Customizing the table of contents

Tables of contents within Microsoft Word can be heavily customized, allowing for certain heading levels to be excluded, or specific styling to be applied. To add a customized table of contents, select ‘Custom Table of Contents’ from the Table of Contents menu (step 3 above).

Updating page numbers

If the document continues to be edited after inserting a table of contents, the page numbers within the table of contents may need to be updated. To do so, simply right-click the table of contents, select ‘Update Field’ and then select ‘Update page numbers only.’

Google Docs

  1. Place the cursor where you would like the table of contents to appear.
  2. Select ‘Insert’ from the top menu.
  3. Select ‘Table of Contents,’ and then pick from the available styles.

Customizing the table of contents

Unlike in Word, there are limited pre-built customizations available, but the table of contents can be edited like other text.

Updating page numbers

Like in Word, page numbers within the table of contents may need to be updated if the document is heavily edited. To update the page numbers, right-click the table of contents and select ‘Update table of contents.’

This added benefit of true headings is yet another example of how accessible design is truly universal design. By improving design for a portion of our audience, we inevitably improve it for everyone.

As always, if you have questions about true headings, or accessibility in general, please feel free to reach out to Robert Hardy, the district’s website accessibility specialist.