January is School Board Recognition Month

Group photo of the five members of the Olympia School Board  in the board room at Knox Administrative Center

Every January school districts across the state and nation honor their board of directors during School Board Recognition Month.

The Olympia School District will recognize its school board with a special program near the start of the meeting on Thursday, January 13. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at Knox Administrative Building or on Zoom.

During the program, Superintendent Patrick Murphy will read a proclamation by Gov. Jay Inslee designating January as School Board Recognition Month in Washington State. This marks the 27th year of the annual observance initiated by the National School Boards Association in 1995.

The proclamation reads in part that school directors “are directly accountable to the residents in their districts and regions, serving as a vital link between members of the community and their schools.”

The one-page proclamation also states that directors “play a crucial role in promoting student learning and achievement by creating a vision, establishing policies and budgets, and setting clear standards of accountability for all involved.”

Technology and Safety Replacement Levy information materials posted to website

Students on laptops in classroom

A reminder that Olympia School District voters will be asked to consider a Technology and Safety Replacement Levy proposal on the February 8, 2022 Special Election ballot.

To learn more about the replacement levy, please see the following information materials posted on the district website:

Stay informed about Washington Cares Fund law

Individual sitting in wheelchair on a path outside a building

The Washington Cares Fund law (also referred to as the Long-Term Care benefit law) was enacted by the 2019 Legislature. The purpose of the law is to set up a system for employees to save and buy into long-term care services. Seven out of 10 people will need long-term care in their elder years, and without a funding source this can cause significant hardship on the individual and their family.

In fall 2021, ending on November 1, 2021, employees had the opportunity to opt out of the system by buying private long-term care insurance and applying to the Washington Employment Security Department (ESD) for exemption. Beginning January 1, 2022 employers must collect the premiums that fund the system from the paychecks of any employee who was not recognized as being exempt by the ESD.

On December 17, 2021, Governor Inslee and legislative leaders released a statement committing to make changes to the Washington Cares Fund law in the 2022 Legislative Session. Many state of Washington employees and employers provided feedback on the legislation regarding the small benefit of the program, and the inequity for employees nearing retirement and for employees who work in Washington now, but will likely never benefit from the program.

Until the existing state law is amended however, Olympia School District must follow the law and proceed with collecting the WA Cares Fund premiums in January 2022. As part of the Governor’s December 17 announcement, he directed the ESD to not collect any premiums from employers until the close of the quarter in order to give the Legislature time to work on these projected modifications. This decision by the Governor and ESD does not change the underlying law that requires employers to collect the premiums from employees.  

In the event the law is amended, Olympia School District will comply with the changes and follow the new timelines identified. If premiums are required to be reversed, the district will quickly do so. Any premiums that have been collected that are not consistent with the new amended law, will be returned to employees. 

To review the WA Cares Fund benefit and provisions and see messages from Governor Inslee regarding future amendments to the law, visit wacaresfund.wa.gov.

If you have questions about this premium and/or your exemption status, please contact the ESD https://wacaresfund.wa.gov/contact-us/ .

Note:  If you applied for and received an exemption from tax from ESD, and submitted your notice to OSD Payroll Services in December or earlier, you should not see the tax/premium reflected on your pay stub. Employees have until December 31, 2022 to apply for an exemption, but exemptions will only be granted for policies purchased by November 1, 2021.

Automatic Payroll Deduction Campaign benefitting OSDEF continues

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 continues to encourage OSD employees to make a monthly contribution through Automatic Payroll Deduction. Since 1998, the Foundation has awarded nearly $2 million in assistance to OSD students and educators through such programs as the Principal’s Emergency Fund, Teaching & Learning Grants and the Mental Health Initiative.

Donations in any amount can have a significant impact. For example, if every OSD employee donated $1 per month, the Foundation could award one additional $1,500 grant every month. A single employee’s donation of $15 per month could help provide Internet access to a student in need for a year.

Registration is paperless and takes only a couple of minutes. Visit https://www.osdef.org/donate , scroll down to the OSD logo, then click the “Payroll Deduction” button. Enter the amount you wish to donate, then select “I would like to make my donation ongoing” if you prefer that option. Once you’ve added your building, first and last name, work email and phone number, you’re all set.

Employees already making a monthly donation through OSD Payroll never need to re-enroll.

Olympia Garden Club Educational Grant application due by March 25

The Olympia Garden Club offers grants to Thurston County teachers who incorporate projects promoting gardening, horticulture or environmental science.

Grant applications are due by Friday, March 25, 2022. Applicants should describe how this grant would be used to enhance the horticultural or environmental science curriculum. Please list the cost of materials/supplies/services you want to purchase with grant funds. Student involvement in grant preparation is encouraged.

Apply for the Olympia Garden Club grant

Certificated staff: Early retirement/resignation incentive

The following is a message from Human Resources

The Olympia School District and the Olympia Education Association offers employees an early retirement and/or resignation incentive. Since we are always anxious to post and find the best qualified candidates for openings, we are hoping to hear from you early if you are planning to retire or resign at the end of this 2021-22 school year.

The district is offering two paid days (fill out a timesheet in June) at the end of the school year for any OEA member who provides a letter of retirement or resignation to the Human Resources Department on or before February 18, 2022.

If you have already provided the Human Resources department a letter of resignation or retirement, you have done what you need to do in order to receive the two incentive days. Remember: In June you must submit a timesheet for the two incentive days. On the timesheet, write “Early Notice Incentive” and record 6 hours for each day — a total of 12 hours. This incentive time is intended to be paid time so you can “tie up loose ends, pack and check out of your building.” The timesheet must be turned in by June 30 of this year to receive the early incentive payment.

If you submit your letter of resignation or retirement after February 18, 2022, you will not be eligible for the two incentive days.

As always, thank you for your dedication to the Olympia School District.