January is School Board Recognition Month

Child's hands stacking colored blocks

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 near the start of the meeting on Thursday, January 14. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. The link to the online meeting will be posted on the district website.

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 26th 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 citizens 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.” 

Read Gov. Inslee’s full proclamation

School board elects officers in annual reorganization

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

Board President Scott Clifthorne mug shot
Newly elected Olympia School Board President Scott Clifthorne

At its December 10 meeting, the board elected Scott Clifthorne as this year’s board president and Maria Flores as vice president.

Board members are also appointed annually to serve as liaisons with various community groups and state agencies. Directors will continue with their same appointed positions from this past year:

  • Leslie Huff, board representative to the Olympia School District Education Foundation.
  • Hilary Seidel, board representative to the Thurston Regional Planning Council.
  • Justin McKaughan, board representative to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.
  • Maria Flores, legislative representative to the Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA). Flores will serve the second year of a two-year term as Legislative Representative.

School board changes meeting dates starting October 8

OSD Log of Capitol building with heading Board Meeting overlays a photo the Knox 111 Administrative Center building. The building street address is also on the graphic: 111 Bethel St. N.E., Olympia, WA 98506.

The Olympia School Board voted on September 14 to move regular board meetings to the second and fourth Thursday of each month beginning on October 8, 2020.

Regular board meeting start times will remain at 6:30 p.m. online via Zoom until further notice. Information on how to join the meeting, including the Zoom link, is posted on the district website at least 24 hours before the meeting. All meetings are recorded with live captioning. Video recordings are posted on the district website several days after each meeting.

The public is encouraged to attend school board meetings, and time is set aside for public comment near the start of each regularly-scheduled meeting. Meeting agendas outlining the topics scheduled to be addressed are available in advance on the district website.

Information about how to sign up for public comment or to email/mail the board a public comment is posted on the Communicating with the Board webpage.

The new board meeting dates for the 2020-21 school year are included on the OSD one-page school calendar on the district website, the 2020-21 School Year Calendar webpage, and the Board Meeting Schedule webpage. They are also included on the OSD Google Calendar.

Education Support Professionals Week is March 9-13

OSD School Board joins Bargaining Unit Reps for a photo during recognition of Education Support Professionals WeekThe Olympia School District is joining the state in recognizing Education Support Professionals Week March 9-13.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy read a proclamation during the February 24 Olympia School Board meeting recognizing March 9-13, 2020 as Education Support Professionals Week. He also presented copies of the proclamation to members of the district’s employee bargaining units.

Nearly 800 education support professionals work with and help children throughout our district. They are involved in nearly every aspect of education, including maintaining school buildings and school grounds; providing administrative support; preparing and serving meals; providing safe transportation; keeping school facilities clean; assisting in the classroom; providing a secure environment; providing information technology and media services; and offering other specialized services.

The resolution states in part that “education support professionals are instrumental in fulfilling the state’s responsibility to educate all students.” The one-page resolution, which is posted in every school and support building from March 9-13, also states that by supporting the learning environment, “education support professionals are crucial partners with teachers, parents, administrators and school boards.”

Please remember to thank an education support professional working in our schools.

Read the full Olympia School Board proclamation.

Do you know people interested in serving on the school board? Invite them to March 13 community meeting

schoolboard2019Learn about the role of a school board director and get information about the three Olympia School Board seats up for election in the November 2019 General Election during a community meeting on Wednesday, March 13.

People interested in vying for a seat on the school board, as well as those who want to learn more about the role, are encouraged to attend the meeting from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Knox Administrative Center Board Room, 1113 Legion Way S.E. in Olympia.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy will share opening remarks, followed by guest speaker Colleen Miller, director of leadership development with the Washington State School Directors Association. Miller will explain about the role and responsibilities of a school board member. Her presentation will be followed by remarks by Olympia School Board Vice President Scott Clifthorne and former veteran school board member Eileen Thomson.

There will be three Olympia School Board director seats on the November 5, 2019 General Election ballot:

  • Director District #1, currently held by Frank Wilson; 4-year term.
  • Director District #2, currently held by Joellen Wilhelm; 4-year term.
  • Director District #4, currently held by Hilary Seidel; 4-year term.

People interested in vying for a seat on the board may mail, drop off in person or submit their application online to the Thurston County Auditor’s Office Elections Division. The Elections Division will begin accepting candidate filings by mail on April 29, 2019 and they must arrive at the elections office no later than May 17. Candidates may also fill out and submit an application online during candidate filing week May 13-17, 2019.

For more information about filing for an open seat on the school board, visit the Thurston County Auditor’s Office Elections Division website. Candidates must be at least 18 years old, reside in the district for which they are filing and be a registered voter at the time of filing. There are some judicial exceptions; for more information, contact Thurston County Auditor’s Office Elections Division at (360) 786-5408.

A Primary Election will be held on August 6, 2019, followed by the General Election on November 5, 2019.

Maps of the district’s five director districts will be on display during the March 13 community meeting. Copies of the maps, including an interactive map in which community members can type in their address to find their director district, are also available on the school district website.

Board-approved Student Outcomes drive Strategic Planning process

Classroom teacher leads a discussion while students sit on the floor in front of herThe Olympia School Board unanimously agreed in December to approve a set of Student Outcomes as part of its Strategic Planning process.

The Student Outcomes were reached after a six-month process that included extensive community input.

The school board considered this input, including a two-day Educational Summit, two online surveys that elicited thousands of responses, and approximately 50 meetings with staff, students, families and community members, to create, revise and eventually adopt six “will statements” as expectations for students.

The following are the board-approved Student Outcomes, which are posted on the district website:

Our students will:

Outcome 1: Be compassionate and kind.

Outcome 2: Have the academic and life skills to pursue their individual career, civic and educational goals.

Outcome 3: Advocate for the social, physical and mental wellness of themselves and others and be hopeful about the future.

Outcome 4: Have the skills, knowledge and courage to identify and confront personal, systemic and societal bias.

Outcome 5: Discover their passions, be curious and love learning.

Outcome 6: Be critical thinkers who contribute to and collaborate with our local, global and natural world.

The next step is for district leadership, with input from staff, students, families and community members, to further define and interpret these broad outcomes. That deeper explanation will be accompanied by metrics so that staff, students and families will know what is meant by each outcome and how the district will measure if it is successful in reaching that result for all students.

The goal is to have that work completed by the end of this school year.

A reminder to be cautious of phishing scams

Person holds cell phone to emphasize need to avoid fraudulent callers participating in phishing scamsWe have received several reports of employees being contacted at their schools by phishing scams. Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card details and money, often for malicious reasons, by someone disguising as a trustworthy entity. Common phishing scams include people impersonating as representatives of the Internal Revenue Service, law enforcement or the courts.

One of the most recent scams in Thurston county involves people calling you personally or on your school phone to accuse you of missing jury duty. These callers inevitably demand money to resolve “outstanding debts” or “legal issues” and often demand payment on reloadable gift cards, other prepaid credit cards, or wire transfers. Sometimes, they direct the person who answers the phone to a nearby store or bank to get and send money. A reminder that these are fraudulent calls. Hang up on these fraudulent callers.

Phishing scams can come in all forms, including phone calls, emails, letters and more. If you are ever unsure about the credibility of a call or other communication, you may always contact local law enforcement. You can also block future calls from a particular number on your mobile devices.

For calls of people impersonating the IRS, you may also report the scam to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration website. The website includes a list of scam alerts at the top of the Home page and a link to report fraudulent calls.

Board seeks input on proposed student dress code policy and procedure

DSC_0033The Olympia School Board is seeking input from OSD students, families, employees and community members about a proposed districtwide student dress code policy and procedure.

While individual schools have rules around student dress code, currently there is no districtwide policy or procedure.

Written comments about the proposed policy and procedure may be submitted through Friday, January 4 on a brief online feedback form. The form includes a complete version of both the policy and procedure.

The school board held a first reading of the newly proposed student dress code policy and procedure on November 19, 2018. Board members plan to review input received between now and January 4 before they hold a second reading of the policy and procedure at the January 22, 2019 board meeting. That meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at LP Brown Elementary School, 2000 26th Ave. N.W. in Olympia.

Any policy that comes before the school board requires a minimum of two readings (reviews) by the board before it can be considered for approval. Board action may follow the second reading on Tuesday, January 22.

In addition to the online feedback form, comments about any policies before the school board may be emailed to boardpolicyreview@osd.wednet.edu. Links to the proposed student dress code Policy 3224 and procedure 3224P are included on the district website Board Policy Review webpage.

School board to vote on student outcomes at December 10 meeting

Teacher sitting in a small group circle with students shares lesson informationAfter more than six months of extensive community input, the school board is ready to consider approving a set of student outcomes that will drive the more specific goals of the district’s new Strategic Plan.

The board is scheduled to vote at its next meeting on December 10 on six proposed student outcomes, also referred to as targets or key focus areas for Olympia School District students. The board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Knox Administrative Center, 1113 Legion Way S.E. in Olympia.

The following is the latest version of the proposed student outcomes. The board edited the wording twice during October based on comments received at nearly 50 focus groups and via an online survey:

Our students will:

Outcome 1: Be compassionate and kind.

Outcome 2: Have the academic and life skills to pursue their individual career, civic and educational goals.

Outcome 3: Advocate for the social, physical and mental wellness of themselves and others and be hopeful about the future.

Outcome 4: Have the skills, knowledge and courage to identify and confront personal, systemic and societal bias.

Outcome 5: Discover their passions, be curious and love learning.

Outcome 6: Be critical thinkers who contribute to and collaborate with our local, global and natural world.

The process that led to the development of the proposed student outcomes began last May when the district invited more than 130 people representing a cross-section of the community — students, staff, family members and community members to a two-day Educational Summit at the Hotel RL in Olympia.

In addition to 40 middle and high school students, who made up the largest represented group in the room, there were teachers, principals, custodians, bus drivers and other support staff; parents, grandparents and other family members; and community members representing businesses, organizations, service clubs and more. Responses to a pre-Summit online survey also helped to inform the two-day event.

The district followed up the Educational Summit by inviting community members at large to share thoughts about the student outcomes via an online feedback form. Additionally, Superintendent Patrick Murphy, other district leaders and at least one of the school board members shared the outcomes and sought feedback in person at 49 focus groups. The focus groups included meeting with staff and parent groups at each of the district’s 19 schools, as well as with a variety of community organizations and service clubs.

Using the student outcomes as the target, plans are to have specific metrics and an action plan developed by the end of this school year. The metrics and action plan will help inform school and district improvement plans. Community input will continue to be sought as part of the yearlong process.

Olympia School District’s last 5-year Strategic Plan expired in June 2018.