School board elects officers in annual reorganization

Olympia School Board group photo

Every year in December, the Olympia School Board elects officers for the coming year during its annual reorganization.

At its December 9 meeting, the board elected Maria Flores as this year’s board president and Justin McKaughan as vice president.

The oath of office was also given to newly elected board member Darcy Huffman, as well as Director Scott Clifthorne. Huffman was elected to the District 3 position, and Clifthorne was re-elected to the District 5 board seat, in the November General Election.

Board members are also appointed annually to serve as liaisons with various community groups and state agencies. The board made the following appointments for the 2021-22 school year:

  • Justin McKaughan, board representative to the Olympia School District Education Foundation.
  • Hilary Seidel, board representative to the Thurston Regional Planning Council.
  • Scott Clifthorne, board representative to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.
  • Darcy Huffman, legislative representative to the Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA).

Staff, families and community invited to Academic Recovery webinar January 5

Students in a classroom work on projects on a computer

The community is invited to a one-hour Zoom webinar on Wednesday, January 5, 2022 to learn about OSD supports for academic recovery.

The webinar will be held from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom (see Zoom details below).

Superintendent Patrick Murphy will be joined by the following panelists:

  • Carmen Kardokus, K-12 Science Instructional Coach
  • Carolyn Balderston, Elementary Instructional Coach and K-5 Social Studies Co-Lead
  • Sheralyn Weimer, Assistant Director of College & Career Readiness (CCR)
  • Cherlyn Pijanowski, Senior Director of Teaching & Learning

The panelists will share how federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds are being used this year to support academic recovery in response to the pandemic. Supports are also outlined in the OSD Academic and Student Well-Being Recovery Plan.

After a brief introduction from the panel outlining the various supports, they will address questions posed by participants during the Zoom webinar and/or emailed in advance. If you are unable to attend, feel free to email questions in advance to:

The monthly community webinars, which started in October 2021, are recorded and posted on the district website. Listen to past webinar recordings.

January 5, 2022 Zoom details:

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Or One tap mobile:
US: +12532158782,,88694716444#  or +13462487799,,88694716444#

Or Telephone:
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 253 215 8782  or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 6833  or +1 646 558 8656  or +1 301 715 8592  or +1 312 626 6799

Webinar ID: 886 9471 6444

International numbers available:

Superintendent message sent December 9 to all OSD employees

The following message is a copy, with a clarification and additional information noted in bold in the fifth bullet, of the December 9 email sent by Communications and Community Relations to all OSD employees on behalf of Superintendent Patrick Murphy:

Hello Olympia School District Team,

As you all know, the Olympia School District, like districts across the region, state and country, is experiencing staffing shortages and a lack of substitutes. This has directly impacted many of you as you have been asked to cover for colleagues, accommodate late-arriving students due to canceled bus routes, have lost access to your principal or other staff member who has had to cover a classroom, etc.

We’ve discussed our response to this at board meetings and with district and labor association leaders, and I want to directly share with all of you some specifics around our efforts.

The following are some steps we have taken to mitigate our substitute shortage and related information:

  • We did an all call for any interested community members with a bachelor’s degree to get emergency certified to substitute teach. Information on that is found in this news story posted on the district website: Now Hiring for Substitute Teachers
  • We have had more than 200 individuals express interest in being sponsored as a substitute teacher.
  • We held an orientation twice for prospective substitutes via Zoom.
    • 40 participants attended the afternoon session/21 attended the evening session.
  • Of all those who expressed interest, we have initiated more than 66 prospective substitutes that are currently being processed by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for approval (24 have been issued certification).
  • We increased the sub rate of pay by 20% to $180 per day if they commit to substituting in the Olympia School District five days a week. This is $30 more than the current daily rate.
  • We have emergency-certified more than 37 paraeducators and have committed to a higher rate of pay ($180) for our wonderful paras who have stepped up to help.
  • We came to mutual agreement with the Olympia Education Association (OEA) to compensate teachers at the higher rate of per diem rate of pay for staff substitute coverage, which is an increase from the previous curriculum rate of pay.

These efforts seem to be paying off as the most recent data we received from the Educational Service District, which is the consortium with whom we work to fill certificated substitute openings, shows that OSD’s current fill rate for certificated substitutes was 76% in November — the highest in our region. That may not sound great but compares well to our neighbors (e.g., Tumwater 66%, Yelm 53%, Tenino 35%, etc.) Classified fill rates are much lower across all districts, in part because we exacerbate the problem when our classified staff fill open certificated positions.

On the bus driver side, we worked with our Teamsters association partners to create a full-time driver trainer position to help expedite training of prospective drivers when they enter the queue. We have also regularly attended Work Source job fairs and posted announcements for bus drivers, and other classified employee positions, on our district website and LinkedIn account.

I share this with you all, not to suggest the problem is solved, but to assure you that we are working hard to address an incredibly difficult challenge that is impacting all of us across the district. We are hopeful that our efforts will continue to pay dividends and the impact will lessen. At the same time we will keep collaborating with our Labor partners to think of creative solutions to address our needs.

Thank you, as always, for your dedication and service to the students and families of Olympia School District.

Flag lowering continues through Thursday, December 9

Flags lowered to half staff outside of Avanti High School

Governor Inslee hereby directed earlier this week that Washington State and United States flags at all state agency facilities, including schools and support buildings, be lowered to half-staff immediately in honor and remembrance of Senator Robert Joseph Dole. Flags will remain at half-staff until close of business or sunset tomorrow, Thursday, December 9, 2021.

The governor also directed that flags be lowered to half-staff on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, for National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day was created by Congress in 1994 in honor of those Americans killed or injured as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Flags remained at half-staff until close of business or sunset on December 7 at our schools and support buildings.

2021-22 Educators of Color Network meeting December 6 on Zoom

The following is an announcement from Human Resources:

We are excited to announce the first session of the OSD Educators of Color Network for the 2021-22 school year.

The first session will be via Zoom on Monday, December 6 at 4 p.m.

If you wish to attend and/or want to receive clock hours, please register via pdEnroller, event ID #138202 –

This year, on select dates, there will be a guest speaker from the PSESD Educators of Color Leadership Community (ECLC).

We hope to see you there.