Don’t miss Class of 2021 Livestreams

Photo of ORLA 2021 Graduates with Principal Celeste Waltermeyer and Asst Principal Kristy Grinnell outdoors  with graduates dressed in caps and gowns
Congratulations Class of 2021!

Dates and times have been finalized for all of the 2021 Olympia School District high school graduations (see below). Due to the nature of our non-traditional, social distancing graduation ceremonies, things continue to look a little different this year. That said, we are thrilled to be able to livestream all five of our graduations on the OSD Facebook page so that families, friends and community members can partake in the festivities.

Included below are graduation specifics for each school’s ceremony. Please remember, to view any of our graduation livestreams you simply visit the OSD Facebook page at the times indicated below. We will start the livestream roughly 15 minutes before each graduation ceremony kicks off.

Be sure to Like/Follow our page to receive automatic notifications when we ‘Go Live’. We hope you are able to tune in and enjoy the celebrations!

Meet this week’s Everyday Heroes

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 are our newest honorees:

Everyday Hero
Cody Malone, Substitute Bus Driver, Transportation

On June 8, 2021, a substitute bus driver was on his way to Centennial Elementary when the school bus was involved in an accident with a vehicle. The substitute driver, Cody Malone, just began his employment with Olympia School District and finished driver training only recently. His professional action and primary concern for the students on his bus are why I am nominating him for this week’s Everyday Heroes.  Cody’s calm reaction and attention to detail kept the situation from being any worse. Thankfully no one was injured on the bus.
Submitted by Robert Aaron, Bus Driver, Olympia School District Transportation Dept. 

Everyday Hero
Katie Anderson, Accounts Payable, Business Office

I would like to recognize Katie Anderson in the Business Office. I had a project put on me at the end of the day Friday. I called Katie in a panic, and she calmly helped me through it. It was about 4:08 p.m. by the time we were done. I heard somebody say it’s 4 Katie and she said, I know…….. I will be done in a minute. Thank you Katie. 1 for your knowledge to help me, and 2 for the calm you brought to my storm.
Submitted by Stacy Sharp, School Fiscal Officer, Capital 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.

New screencast on creating accessible content in Google Docs

The Communications and Community Relations department has put together a new screencast covering how to create accessible content in Google Docs. This ten minute video demonstrates the correct use of headings, alternative text, tables, lists and columns. It also covers how to use Grackle to scan your documents for accessibility concerns and export a final, ready to post PDF.

Quick-start guides covering these tools, as well as how to create accessible content in other software suites, are available on the Website Accessibility Resources page. If you have questions or tips regarding creating accessible content, please reach out to Robert Hardy, the district’s website accessibility specialist.

Electronic time reporting and electronic payroll workflow systems enhancements

As you know, our Electronic Time Reporting System launched successfully on December 1, 2020. Since its launch, the team has been working to enhance the ETRS and EPWS system with new auto-fill features in order to improve on the seamless, user-friendly experience. The team is excited to announce these enhancements and expected launch dates!

Use ETRS to Manage Your Allocated Extra Hours and Submit for Payment

Allocated Hours will be a brand new dropdown menu item in the ETRS system. Buckets of time will be added by Payroll to ETRS in accordance with each Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for each union group. These buckets will be updated in real-time and frontloaded at the beginning of each school year or whenever new allocations are allowed per the CBA. Employees will see their current balances at any given time, and after timeslips are submitted, balances will be updated accordingly, which allows for easy and seamless tracking. Employees will not be allowed to input timeslips that cause any given bucket to go into a negative balance, which means that employees will always be apprised of how many hours are allowed for that specific Type of Time. For example, on September 1, an OEA employee may see that they have an available balance of 30 hours for Staff Development. Let’s say the employee submits time worked for 6 hours of Staff Development. The balance will update automatically to 24 available hours for Staff Development. Examples of Allocated Hours include, but are not limited to, Staff Development, IEP Additional Hours & Progress Notes, Additional Days, Incentive Days, and Grant Specific Allocations. Please refer to your group’s CBA for more information regarding allowable timeslip submissions.

Skyward or ETRS?

Now that allocated hours can be seamlessly managed in the ETRS system, there is no need to track or manage allocated hours in Skyward. As we consider moving forward with the new ETRS features, a committee will consider whether or not to use ETRS as the sole management tool for allocated hours and timeslipping for those hours, while using Skyward to manage only sick, vacation, personal, and other types of leave. If you would like to serve on this committee, look for the contact information at the end of this article.

Additional Hours is Now Other Hours

In the drop-down menu, “Additional Hours” will now be “Other Hours”. Other Hours will include any time above and beyond the Type of Times in ETRS. For example, if an OEAPA staff member covers a lunch due to short-staffing and runs into overtime, that employee would input “Other Hours” and select “Overtime Rate” when submitting their timeslip. Other examples of Other Hours include, but are not limited to, hours above regularly scheduled work hours and overtime. Please refer to your group’s CBA for more information regarding allowable timeslip submissions.

“Signature” Required by Auditors (It is Easy!)

New disclaimers will also be added to the ETRS system in compliance with auditing standards. You may notice a new blurb towards the top of the page along with a checkbox that you need to click in order to submit your timeslip(s). All electronic timeslip submissions require acknowledgement and confirmation via your electronic signature (i.e., checkbox). This carries the same weight that your wet signature would on a paper timeslip. While consent was implied within the current system, our auditors required an explicit statement and step on the ETRS site. The same acknowledgement statement will be included on the approval (EPWS) site.

New IEP Hours Feature

For employees that utilize IEP Hours, IEP Hours will now include a separate, electronic request form that adds additional hours to your balance, when approved. For example, let’s say a teacher is working individually with a student, but that teacher doesn’t have enough IEP hours to cover the time. Previously, that teacher would submit a paper form to SpEd to request additional IEP hours. Now, the teacher will request additional IEP hours through an online form, which is sent directly to the SpEd team for review and approval. Upon approval, that teacher will now see additional hours related to that student in the ETRS system, and the teacher can submit timeslips accordingly. The balance will update in real-time and include both the standard IEP allocated hours along with any approved requests by the SpEd department. This is an exciting enhancement, as it will streamline the way IEP Hours are tracked and allocated.

ETRS Designed According to Employee Groups and CBA Calendars

All calendars will also be updated to reflect any given employee’s school year. For example, OEA employees will have a calendar that runs from August 1 through July 31. OTPAA employees will have a calendar that runs from September 1 through August 31. Please refer to your group’s CBA for more information regarding calendars.

We anticipate a launch date of September 1st for the new enhancements to go live; however, we will begin testing in June. A committee with representation from each employee group will be asked to help us test the system and ensure it is working properly. If you would like to be part of the testing group or if you have any questions, please contact Payroll at (360) 596-6190 or email help-payroll@osd.wednet.edu. All training materials on the ETRS Training Web Page will be updated to reflect these enhancements, and live training will be offered soon.

Congratulations to Employee Recognition Award winners honored at board meeting

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

The 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.

Superintendent Murphy presents award plaque to Melissa Wood.
The Champion of Differences: Melissa Wood, English Language Specialist and Department Chair (Jefferson, Marshall, Reeves and Washington middle schools).
Superintendent Murphy presents plaque to Paul Rae
The Coach: Paul Rae, Teacher, Coach and Department Head, Olympia High School
Superintendent Murphy presents plaque to RES LEAP and Academy Team members
The Dream Team: Roosevelt Elementary School LEAP and Academy Team (team members joined the board recognition in-person or on Zoom). The team includes Jessica Pickert, Debbie Haddon, Jesse Garner, Sonja Moniodis, Emily Dixon, Heidi Brown-Ordillas, Mark Prince, Haley Buono, Landry Gajkowski, and Dave Marsh
Jane Lane holds up award plaque for The Unsung Hero
The Unsung Hero: Jane Lane, Paraeducator, L.P. Brown Elementary School
Mimi Arnett holds up plaque for The Innovator
The Innovator: Mimi Arnett, English Language Specialist (Garfield, Madison, McKenny elementary schools)

Kudos to this week’s Everyday Heroes

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 are our newest honorees:

Everyday Heroes
Maggie Dunlap, Paraeducator, Capital High School and Min Hwa Arnold, Paraeducator, Olympia High School

I want to nominate 2 amazing staff persons for their constant support of students using assistive technology this school year. They have dedicated extra time to learn about technology as it relates to their student’s learning needs, finding ways to navigate around and through obstacles to combine classwork and skills building in thoughtful, meaningful ways within their sessions.

It has been a pleasure to work with Maggie Dunlap (Capital High School) and Min Hwa Arnold (Olympia High School) these past months.

Thank you, Maggie and Min Hwa, for doing what you do so well.
Submitted by Suzanne Anthony, Assistive Technology Program Specialist, OSD

Everyday Hero
Carolyn Miles, Substitute Teacher, OSD

I would like to nominate Teacher Sub, Carolyn Miles, for being so flexible and filling in the last minute, with a smile and great attitude as well. Carolyn was scheduled at Hansen but they were sweet enough to send her to us two days in a row for a last-minute absence.  Thank you so much.
Submitted by Jodi Cox, Lead Secretary, Madison Elementary School

Everyday Hero
Chelsey Scheidemann, Math Teacher, Washington Middle School

Chelsey’s dedication to creating a generation of math people who love math has absolutely created a young mathematician in my home. I’d like to share a story about my daughter’s “Aha moment” as a result of Chelsey’s teaching. The other day, my 11 year old excitedly taught us all about solving for anonymous numbers. She enthusiastically explained that she used to think algebra was hard and now she thinks it is FUN! And this was because of her cool math teacher. Thank you, Chelsey. You helped my child discover how amazing math is. Chelsey’s success is built on a strong scaffolding of quality math instruction by McKenny Elementary teachers Teresa Bond and Dorothy Espedal-Johnson.
Submitted by Jane Partridge, Preschool Teacher, McKenny Elementary 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.

New screencast on creating accessible content in Microsoft Word

The Communications and Community Relations department has put together a new screencast covering how to create accessible content in Microsoft Word. This ten minute video demonstrates the correct use of headings, alternative text, tables, lists and columns. It also covers how to scan your document for accessibility issues and export a final PDF.

Quick-start guides covering these tools, as well as how to create accessible content in other software suites, are available on the Website Accessibility Resources page. If you have questions or tips regarding creating accessible content, please reach out to Robert Hardy, the district’s website accessibility specialist.

June online workshops set to explain new state-mandated payroll tax

person working on a laptop

In case you missed information shared with all employees last month regarding workshops offered in May, please see below regarding the new state mandated payroll tax with new June information webinars that begin this week.

On April 21, 2021, Governor Inslee signed House Bill 1323, creating a new long-term care trust program. Beginning in January 2022, all employees will be paying an additional payroll tax — 0.58% of all wages. The tax proceeds will be used to fund a public insurance program for long-term services and support. While January 2022 seems a distant time, there are high-stakes earlier deadlines regarding this legislation.

Employees will need to understand the value of the long-term trust, understand the options to use the trust account, and understand the relative cost after paying into the system.

Employees will also need to understand that if they invest in an individual long-term care account or trust, then the legislation offers a one-time window for employees to opt out of the state mandatory payroll tax. The individual long-term care policy must be in place by November 1, 2021. Rules regarding the process to opt out are not yet finalized, so we cannot predict when the opt-out must be in place.

Olympia School District is partnering with NW Benefit Advisors to assist us with the communications and education regarding the new law.

This is one of those times where the stakes are high. All employees of the school district will be subject to the payroll tax, we all need to understand the State’s plan, and the payroll tax and employee options. Excluding the precious weeks of summer, the fall deadlines are right around the corner.

NW Benefit Advisors will conduct workshops to explain the new payroll tax, what options employees have, and important deadlines:

  • Tuesday, June 8  3:30-4:30 pm;
  • Wednesday, June 9  3:30-4:30 pm;
  • Thursday, June 10 3:30-4:30 and 6-7 pm.

NW Benefit Advisors will also conduct workshops to give employees an overview of long-term care insurance, the costs of private insurance, and the deadlines to opt out of the payroll tax:

  • Tuesday, June 15 3:30-4:30 pm;
  • Wednesday, June 16 3:30-4:30 pm;
  • Thursday, June 17 3:30-4:30 and 6-7 pm.

 CLICK Here to access NW Benefit Advisors website with information on:

  1. Attend a workshop.
  2. Find information on House Bill 1323 and Long-Term Care Insurance
  3. Schedule an appointment with NW Benefit Advisors to discuss your personalized plan.

The website will ask for your email address; this is used to verify that you are an employee of the Olympia School District. It is safe to use your district email address.

If you are having troubles accessing the website please email help-payroll@osd.wednet.edu.