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 – https://www.pdenroller.org/olympia/catalog/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.

United Way Annual Giving Campaign ends today, Tuesday, November 30

Today, November 30, is the final day to submit pledges for the Olympia School District’s annual United Way giving campaign. This year all pledges should be submitted online.

United Way is a national organization that provides a multitude of services to thousands of people right here in the Olympia community, including many of the students and families served by the school district.

Donations through the United Way support a variety of organizations. In past years, United Way has supported organizations such as the Thurston Food Bank, Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB), Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County and the Olympia School District Education Foundation. United Way also supports the Reading Buddy Program on an annual basis.

Additional details about the United Way of Thurston County can be found on its website.

If you have questions or need more information, please feel free to contact Mike Leonard at MLeonard@unitedway-thurston.org.

All online pledge forms need to be completed no later than end of day today, Tuesday, November 30.

View the online pledge form.

United Way graphic showing student reading a book and the OSD and United Way logos. Information includes all details in the text, including dates of campaign and contact info.

Learn about the Technology and Safety Replacement Levy proposal: Dec. 1 Webinar

Teachers helps middle school student on a computer project

The community is invited to a one-hour Zoom webinar on Wednesday, December 1 to learn about the Technology and Safety Replacement Levy proposal that will appear on the February 8, 2022 Special Election ballot.

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

Superintendent Patrick Murphy will be joined by Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Capital Planning Jennifer Priddy, and Chief Information, Technology Marc Elliott.

The panelists will share about the replacement levy, including proposed projects and funding. Information is also available on the Olympia School District website.

After a brief introduction, panelists 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: communications@osd.wednet.edu. Upon completion, the webinar, along with previous monthly webinars, will be recorded and posted on the district website.

December 1, 2021 Zoom details:

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://osd111.zoom.us/j/86258492903

Or One tap mobile:
US: +12532158782,,86258492903# or +16699006833,,86258492903#

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 +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 558 8656 or +1 301 715 8592

Webinar ID: 862 5849 2903

International numbers available: https://osd111.zoom.us/u/kc21T19IJC

Employee Assistance Program provides support to employees and dependents

White ceramic teacup sits on railing with mountains and lake in the distance

Personal issues, planning for life events or simply managing daily life can affect an employee’s work, health and family.

First Choice Health provides 24/7 support, resources and information for personal and work-life issues. Services include support for anxiety and depression, couples/relationship/parenting, crisis support, alcohol/drug problems, grief and loss, domestic violence, and more.

Learn more by viewing the Employee Assistance Program flyer

OSD Community Resources Webpage

Additionally, community agencies are available to assist youth and families.

A compilation of resources and information, including a list of local and national crisis hotlines, support groups, counseling resources and more are posted on the district website.

Remember to take the Panorama staff survey by 8 p.m. tonight, November 30

graphic for fall Panorama survey with details in the story

All employees are encouraged to take the Panorama fall survey by 8 p.m. tonight, Tuesday, November 30. Direct links to the staff survey are posted at the top of the OSD staff portal. There is one link for instructional staff and another for non-instructional staff.

Responses to the survey are confidential. The district is partnering with a third-party vendor to support us in administering these surveys.

Thank you, in advance, for participating!

Student Spotlight, Everyday Hero and School Program nominations

man's face visible behind a video camera

Do you know of an Olympia School District student or staff member who is going above and beyond in their role?  Now is your chance to nominate those folks and help them receive the recognition they deserve. At the link below you will find nomination forms for our Student Spotlight and Everyday Heroes.

Do you have a program at your school which you would like to feature in a district newsletter?  Fill out the School Program Nomination form and tell us about the program, its participants and what makes it unique.  We publish our ‘Spotlight on Success’ newsletter monthly, as well as almost daily on social media, so we’re always looking for reasons to brag about all our wonderful schools!

Selected Student Spotlight, Everyday Heroes and School Program nominations may be recognized on social media, in district publications and on district web pages. Details for completing nominations are at the link included below.

Recognize OSD Students and Staff Nomination Form

Just 4 days left for SEBB Open Enrollment! Make any changes by Monday, November 22, 2021

Image of sand running out inside glass tube

The School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB) Program’s annual open enrollment began October 25, 2021 and ends Monday, November 22, 2021.

Open enrollment is your opportunity to make changes to your health plan benefits. Changes are effective January 1, 2022.

  • What changes can you make? The SEBB Program’s annual open enrollment is your opportunity to:
    • Change medical and dental plans.
    • Add or remove dependents.
    • Reattest to the spouse or state-registered domestic partner premium surcharge (SRDP) (if you received a letter asking you to reattest.)
    • Enroll in the Medical FSA, Limited Purpose FSA (new for 2022), or DCAP through Navia Benefit Solutions.
    • Consider your long-term disability insurance coverage (changes are coming for 2022).
    • Waive your medical coverage if you are enrolled in other employer-based group medical, a TRICARE plan, or Medicare.
    • Enroll in medical coverage if you previously waived.
  • Learn more about the changes you can make on our open enrollment webpage and in the October Intercom
  • How do I make changes? Log in to SEBB My Account.

Resources for open enrollment

SEBB is offering multiple ways to learn about benefits from the comfort of your home.

  • Virtual benefits fairs – During open enrollment, you can learn more about your health plans and other insurance options by visiting the virtual benefits fair.
  • ALEX – Help you understand your SEBB benefits and guide you through choosing your medical, dental, and vision plans. ALEX will suggest plans for you to consider, based on your responses to questions. Access ALEX at wa.gov/alex and within SEBB My Account.
  • Webinars – Attend a webinar provided by our carriers and vendors. See the schedule.
  • Facebook Live – Join us on HCA’s Facebook on Monday, November 2 at 4 p.m.
  • Web content – Visit the SEBB Open enrollment
  • Intercom newsletter – The newsletter includes information about the changes to benefits, what changes you can make during annual open enrollment and how to make them, monthly premiums, and more. Read the October IntercomNote: Since the newsletter was released, there have been clarifications about Kaiser Permanente of Washington’s (KPWA) and KPWA Option’s networks that could affect your coverage.  Read the announcement on HCA’s website to learn more.
  • Need help? – Contact your benefits office.

Change to long-term disability insurance benefit

The employee-paid long-term disability (LTD) benefit will change starting January 1, 2022. You will automatically be enrolled in employee-paid LTD, if not already enrolled.

Note: Your long-term disability benefit is different from the state’s new long-term care benefit, which is called The WA Cares FundLong-term disability replaces a portion of your income due to accident, illness, or pregnancy. You can reduce or decline your employee-paid LTD coverage at any time. Long-term care pays for the cost of care when you need assistance with activities of daily living and is not currently part of your SEBB Program benefits.

The LTD benefit will offer a minimum 90-day benefit waiting period with two coverage level options. You will be automatically enrolled in the coverage level that covers 60 percent of the first $16,667 of your monthly predisability earnings. This has a maximum monthly benefit of $10,000.

You have the option to reduce your employee-paid LTD to a lower-cost 50-percent coverage level, with a maximum monthly benefit of $8,333. You also have the option to decline the coverage. If you reduce or decline the employee-paid benefit and later decide to enroll in or increase your coverage, you will need to provide evidence of insurability and be approved by Standard Insurance Company. You can reduce or decline your employee-paid LTD coverage at any time by logging into SEBB My Account. However, if you don’t reduce or decline your LTD benefit election by December 31 [or your payroll cutoff date], you will be enrolled in the 60-percent plan, and the premium will be deducted from your paycheck for January 2022 coverage.

If you have questions about your benefits or account, please contact your benefits office at sebb@osd.wednet.edu.