January 11, 2018

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Spotlight on Success Header - January 11, 2018

January 11, 2018

Superintendent's Message

Hello Olympia School District Families,


Happy New Year to all!  2018 brings challenges and opportunities to the Olympia School District. 


As I mentioned in a previous newsletter message to our community, we have completed our analysisPatrick Murphy Headshot of the most recently passed state budget. House Bill 2242 does provide a much-needed and long overdue infusion of additional funds into education. Unfortunately, the formula for allocating those funds benefits some districts and harms others. Olympia School District, unfortunately, falls in the latter category. While there are lots of components to the budget, it has become clear that there are two primary reasons for this adverse impact. First, the state funding formula no longer accounts for apportioning more funds to districts with more experienced staff who earn more. As a result, it penalizes districts with more senior and experienced teachers and staff. In Olympia, we have a significant number of experienced and dedicated teachers who are committed to our community and stay in our district. That hurts us in this budget. Secondly, the state budget accounts for increased costs in some districts by allocating a Regional Cost of Living factor. This regionalization factor can increase district apportionments by anywhere from 6% to 24%. That amount of increased revenue could not only help to resolve the loss of funding needed for more experienced staff; it allows some districts to implement programs, interventions and strategies to increase student achievement for all students. Ninety-three (93) districts across the state received some form of regionalization money, including practically every district in Snohomish, King, Kitsap and Pierce counties. Our neighboring district to the north here in Thurston County received 6% regionalization revenue. Olympia received none.


The combination of the elimination of increased funding for more experienced staff and the absence of any regionalization revenue to offset the blow has left Olympia facing a significant deficit that we forecast to be $6.6 million dollars, or 5% of our operating budget. That is a tough pill to swallow when some districts for the first time in a long time have the resources to expand opportunities for students to better prepare them for the future. We are cautiously hopeful that a technical fix will occur during this short session to address our needs in Olympia. We will continue to work with our legislative partners to that end. 


Simultaneously we will be embarking on a budget input process across the district that will engage parents, students, staff and community around priorities to help us craft our budget whatever the outcome of this session. There will be more information coming out soon regarding opportunities to provide input in schools and around the community, so stay tuned for that.


We are excited about our proposed technology and safety replacement levy that will be on the February 13, 2018 Special Election ballot. A representative group of staff, students and parents formulated the levy proposal that was approved by the school board this past fall. This levy proposes technology and safety initiatives that would individualize instruction, provide equitable access to devices, teach safe and healthy use of technology, and better prepare our students for college and the careers of tomorrow. For more information, please visit our district website technology and safety replacement levy election Web page.


Lastly, once the dust clears from this legislative session, in the spring we will begin the process of working with our community to craft a new Strategic Plan for the district. At our December school board meeting, I shared my findings from my six-month entry plan. With that information to help guide the process, we will again be coming out into the community to gather input and solicit feedback to build the new Strategic Plan. Stay tuned for more information and opportunities on that front as well.


Challenges and opportunities, while sometimes stressful, can help us narrow our priorities and discover where our true values lie. We are committed to advocating for the students of our community and partnering with all of you to meet our challenges and take advantage of our opportunities to propel our students to their full potential.





“A Moment in Time” celebrates the history and future of Garfield Elementary

In a special school assembly in December, Northwest artist Mauricio Robalino talked with students about the process of designing and crafting “A Moment in Time,” a large, colorful mosaic he recently installed at Garfield Elementary School.


Principal Brendon Chertok explained to students that the art was financed through the WashingtonMural with students posing at Garfield Elementary School Arts Commission when the school was remodeled between 2013 and 2015. Last year Chertok formed a committee to choose the artist and help shape a piece that was accessible to students, staff and the community.


The committee selected Rubalino because his art was colorful, vibrant and accessible. Committee member Pam Yusko said they wanted a piece of art that the students would be able to touch. Chertok added that they wanted Garfield students to be able to see themselves and their community in the artwork. He said the mosaic does so by including “references to Native Americans, other diverse cultural groups, animals and the natural setting” surrounding Garfield. The kids can see themselves and their community in the artwork.


Rubalino visited Garfield more than a year ago and met with staff and community members, looking for the perfect location and inspiration for the piece. Once the location - the large entry hall in the school -  had been identified, he needed a theme for the art. After visiting with many local community members, the story of the Garfield area began to emerge. It was a story of nature.


Rubalino learned that at one time, the Garfield area had been full of bears, wolves, salmon and a few people. The people had planted cherry trees, apple trees and all kinds of plants to nourish themselves. The Garfield property was once a cherry orchard, and Rubalino told students that Garfield has “cherry energy,” which was his initial inspiration for the mosaic.


He told the children, “You are all the seeds, cherries have seeds, big trees come from the seeds, great things are going to come from all of you.”


To begin designing the mosaic, Rubalino spent several days with students at Garfield, drawing and painting. He gathered ideas from the children’s artwork and sketched and painted a rough vision of the piece. Next, he began to cut glass for the mosaic, firing them in a kiln to achieve a smooth, shiny finish. Finally, the mosaic began to take shape.


When each individual section of the mosaic was complete, Rubalino and some helpers spent two full days affixing it to the wall inside a large frame he had custom milled to hold everything together.


As the assembly came to a close, students were curious about the artwork. One student asked why the mosaic is so big. Rubalino explained that the committee wanted something dramatic and beautiful.


The committee that helped choose the artist included Principal Chertok, Marissa Laubscher (Washington Arts Commission), Lucy Gentry (former Garfield parent and local artist), Evan Horback (Garfield parent, local artist and art teacher at Avanti High School), Bethany Orr (Garfield parent, staff member and local artist), Ashley Orr (former Garfield student), and Pam Yusko (former Garfield teacher).


Another student asked how the glass was made. Rubalino told the students he bought beautifully colored glass, shaped it with special tools and fired it in a kiln so it would be shiny and smooth. 


Students told Rubalino that they love the colors and that they can touch and feel the artwork. They told him they also enjoy finding new things in the mosaic every day. From the bald eagle, to Mount Rainier, to the cherry tree and many salmon and colorful insects, the mosaic truly represents what is unique and special about Garfield and the natural world surrounding it.


Rubalino told the students, “I want you to enjoy your creativity…we are all artists…what you smell, what you see, what you touch, what you feel, what you embrace, what you reject, is all a part of you, and that is what art is…it expresses that for us, it makes it easy for us to understand.”


He titled the mosaic “A Moment in Time,” representing something that happened at one point and that is still happening today.


To learn more about the artist please visit www.artpeople.com.


4th Annual Technology Fair January 20

Mark your calendars for the 4th annual OSD Technology Fair on Saturday, January 20 at Capital High School.


The free event, which is open to all students, families and the community, will be held from 10 a.m. to2018 OSD Technology Fair

3 p.m. in the Capital High Commons, 2707 Conger Ave. N.W. in Olympia.

This year’s theme is “Connect, Collaborate, Create.” School booths will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Students and teachers from all levels will showcase how technology is integrated in classrooms and curricula. Student technology presentations will take place from 1 to 3 p.m.


This year’s winning logo was designed by Catherine Savel, a 9th grade Olympia High student in Kelly Boyer’s class. Her submission was selected by a committee from approximately 150 submissions from elementary through high school. A slideshow of all entries will be shown at the fair.


Each school also has the opportunity to enter a student team in a Technology Challenge. The secret challenge will be revealed the morning of the Technology Fair.


Teams will work all morning to create a presentation and be evaluated in the afternoon beginning at 1 p.m. by a panel of local judges. Elementary and secondary students will respond to the same challenge question but be judged separately.


Several OSD departments will be on hand to demonstrate a variety of technology innovations across the district. We hope to see you there!


Meet Ainsley Austin - the 2017-18 Board of Directors Student Representative

When the staff at Avanti High School selected Ainsley Austin to be the 2017-18 Olympia School Board Student Representative, Austin says she “knew nothing about the school board.”  She didn’t even know there was a student representative, so when she was offered the opportunity, she was honored that school staff selected her to represent her peers throughout the district.


The student representative to the board position rotates annually between all four high schools in the OSD Student Representative to Board - Ainsley Austindistrict. Austin’s term began on June 1 and will end on May 31 of this year.


One of her goals during her tenure is to inform students about her role on the board. She is in the process of visiting each middle and high school Associated Student Body leadership group, educating them and asking for help spreading the word that students can contact her with questions or concerns that she can share with the board.


Board President Frank Wilson said, “Ainsley provides great insight to the issues facing our students every day.  She is articulate, well thought out and prepared.  Ainsley has made it a priority to visit student groups from around the district in order to provide a larger context for the issues students face.”


Her second goal is to advocate for student mental health awareness. Superintendent Patrick Murphy said it was Austin’s voice “that helped ensure that mental, social and emotional support for students would be a focus of our upcoming Strategic Plan. I’ve watched her expertly facilitate conversations with groups of students to better understand their needs so she can effectively represent them at the school board level.

Austin credits her many years’ experience in theater with helping her develop leadership, responsibility and public speaking skills. In addition to theater, she has a passion for music, singing, playing the piano, ukulele and a little guitar. Superintendent Murphy said, “It was at our summer school board retreat that I saw first-hand how her soft-spoken but firm approach to leadership can be so effective. We are so fortunate to have such a talented, compassionate, and dedicated team member on our school board.”

Student representatives serve in advisory capacity at school board meetings and do not vote. They are welcome and encouraged to comment about policies, procedures and decisions that affect students.


Although not a voting member, Avanti High Principal Michael Velasquez said Austin’s “student voice is an essential component to the school board doing our work well.  With 10,000 students in our district, Ainsley reminds us of our commitment to each of them -- a commitment to bring them an educational experience that exceeds their expectations but most importantly meets their individual academic and social/emotional needs.”


After high school, Austin wants to attend a four-year college, but is still undecided on a career path. She is considering journalism with a minor in theater. She is gaining experience in both as she works as an intern with Thurston Talk and remains involved in local and school theater productions.


“Even if I don’t do something in education or become a school board director, this experience has helped me learn more about a new branch of government and a new topic and has taken me out of my comfort zone,” remarked Austin.


Austin encourages her fellow students to come to the board meetings.  Even if students aren’t aware of current topics, student voice is important to the decision-making process.


Next year, Austin would like to see two student board representatives for the district. She is proposing one representative from a traditional background and one from an alternative school background, like herself. Austin was homeschooled until sixth grade, when she began attending classes at the Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA).  She continued at ORLA through eighth grade and has been at Avanti since beginning high school.


Austin encourages students to contact her at austinag@students.osd.wednet.edu. She checks her email often and would be happy to answer questions, hear concerns and share them with the board.


January is School Board Recognition Month

Every January school districts across the state and nation honor their board of directors during SchoolSchool Board Recognition Month - January 2018 Board Recognition Month.

The Olympia School District will recognize its school board with a special program near the start of the meeting on Monday, January 22. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at Garfield Elementary School, 325 Plymouth St. N.W., Olympia.

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 23rd year of the annual observance initiated by the National School Boards Association in 1995.

The proclamation reads in part that school 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.” It also states 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.”



OSD Players Present “Hello Dolly”

Get your tickets now for the OSD Players annual Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF) play! This year’s production, “Hello Dolly” will take place at the Olympia High School Performing Arts Center: 1302 North Street SE, Olympia, WA 98501.


Showtimes:OSDEF Presents Hello Dolly

February 22, 23, 24 - 7 p.m.

February 24, 25 - 2 p.m.


Purchase Tickets Here


The musical follows the story of Dolly Gallagher Levi (a strong-willed matchmaker), as she travels to Yonkers, New York, to find a match for the miserly "well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire" Horace Vandergelder. In doing so she convinces his niece, his niece's intended, and Horace's two clerks to travel to New York City.


For many years, the OSD players were a group of teachers and staff of the Olympia School District who got together to put on a play for their own enjoyment and that of the community. It was a great tradition. In 2005, the players and the OSDEF decided to band together, keep the play going and have the proceeds benefit the Foundation.


The OSDEF took on many of the logistics: getting sponsorships, selling tickets, selling refreshments and getting volunteers. The players kept doing what they do best: putting on a fantastic family-friendly night of entertainment. It’s the only production we know of its kind that brings together people from the “OSD family.”


The OSDEF counts on the production as the primary source of funding for the grants program and administrative costs. It builds community among the district and with the audience. Please plan to come out and join OSD Players at these performances this year. The OSD Players musical has been an annual event since 1993; since 2005 all proceeds from the play benefit the OSDEF.


Technology and Safety Replacement Levy Election Information

Olympia School District voters will be asked to consider a technology and safety replacement levy on the February 13, 2018 Special Election ballot.


A page has been created on the district website that summarizes information about the proposed levy, with links to details about voter registration and deadlines and frequently asked questions.


View the Technology and Safety Replacement Levy Election information page.


Online voter registration ends January 15
Remember to Vote


A reminder that January 15 is the deadline to register online to vote or to update existing voter registration information for the February 13, 2018 Special Election.


The following day, January 16, is the last day to register by mail. All submissions must be postmarked by this date.



Countdown to Kindergarten set for February 10

The Olympia School District will hold its annual “Countdown to Kindergarten” informational event starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 10 at Capital High School.

If you know of neighbors or friends who have a child entering kindergarten in the Olympia SchoolCountdown to Kindergarten Day District in fall 2018, please share this information with them and encourage them to attend this free event. Capital High School is located at 2707 Conger Ave. N.W. in Olympia.

The event begins at 10 a.m. in the high school theater with a welcome by Superintendent Patrick Murphy. Families will then have until 11:30 a.m. to visit school booths set up in the Commons and learn about a variety of topics related to kindergarten and school in general. Here are a few things you can learn about:


Registering for kindergarten

  • Using Skyward Family Access (Student Information System)
  • Riding the bus
  • Alternative kindergarten program options
  • Before-and after-school childcare
  • Community partner services



School board invites input on board policy review

One of the Olympia School Board's responsibilities is to establish policies, which are essentially OSD School Boardgoverning documents by which the Olympia School District operates.


Last summer, the board set a goal to review all district policies, starting with the 1000 series that pertain to the Olympia School District Board of Directors. The board completed that series in fall and is currently reviewing the 4000 series: Community Relations.


The board invites students, employees and the community to share feedback, including questions or comments, about the policies. Input will be shared with the school board as it moves forward with the policy review process.


Policies currently being reviewed are posted on a new “Board Policy Review” Web page on the Olympia School District website. A dedicated email address has also been set up for the community to comment or ask questions about the policies: boardpolicyreview@osd.wednet.edu


The board held a first reading on five board policies during the January 8, 2018 board meeting. These five policies will return for a second reading and possible action at the next regularly scheduled board meeting on January 22, 2018. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at Garfield Elementary School. The five policies currently being reviewed are:


  • 4110 Citizen Advisory Committees and Task Forces
  • 4310 District Relationships with Law Enforcement and Other Governmental Agencies
  • 4315 Release of Information Concerning Sexual and Kidnapping Offenders
  • 4320 Cooperative Programs with Other Districts and Public Agencies
  • 4400 Election Activities


There are several ways to provide input in this board policy review process:

The public is welcome to comment about policies or other topics of interest during Olympia School Board meetings. Time is set aside for public comment near the start of open board meetings, and those who wish to speak are asked to sign in on a form placed near the entrance to each meeting. 

See a list of 2017-18 board meetings.

Learn more about the protocol for speaking during public board meetings. 

Email comments or questions about the policies being reviewed to the new district email address especially created for this current board policy review process. The following email is monitored daily, and questions will be answered in the order they are received: boardpolicyreview@osd.wednet.edu

Contact Pam Barker, executive assistant to the Olympia School District Superintendent, at 360-596-6114.

Email or call Olympia School Board members directly. Contact information for board members, including their phone numbers and email addresses, is featured with their photos on the Board of Directors Web page.


Once the school board has finished reviewing the 4000 series, it will move to a new series. The district's complete compilation of policies include:


  • 1000 series - Board of Directors
  • 2000 series - Instruction
  • 3000 series - Students
  • 4000 series - Community Relations
  • 5000 series - Personnel
  • 6000 series - Management Support



Upcoming OSD Events



Jan. 15 - No School/Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Jan. 15 - Last day for online voter registration
Jan. 16 - Joint Board Meeting with Olympia City Council
Jan. 17 - 50-minute Early Release Wednesday
Jan. 20 - 4th Annual Technology Fair
Jan 22 - Board Meeting, Garfield ES, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 24 - 50-minute Early Release Wednesday

The Olympia School District will provide equal educational opportunity and treatment for all students in all aspects of the academic and activities program without discrimination based on race, religion, creed, color, national origin, age, honorably-discharged veteran or military status, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, marital status, the presence of any sensory, mental or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. The district will provide equal access to school facilities to the Boy Scouts of America and all other designated youth groups listed in Title 36 of the United States Code as a patriotic society. District programs will be free from sexual harassment. Auxiliary aids and services will be provided upon request to individuals with disabilities.

The following people have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies, reports of alleged sexual harassment, concerns about compliance, and/or grievance procedures: 

All four individuals may also be contacted at 1113 Legion Way S.E., Olympia, WA, 98501.