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Hello Olympia School District families, staff and community,
We are excited to begin another school year in the Olympia School District. The start of school is a time of renewal and optimism. It is an opportunity to set and pursue new goals, dreams and aspirations. As I have mentioned before, I am honored and humbled to be your new superintendent. Each day in the position, I come away more impressed with the enthusiasm and the commitment from the students and families I have met. Our supportive community has allowed us to progress and move forward on many school bond improvement projects, including five new classroom mini-buildings in our elementary schools and a turf field that will be lit and open year-round at Capital High School.
I've been equally impressed by the obvious compassion and dedication of our Olympia School District staff. They are looking forward to welcoming our students back on the first day of school. We know that our students are set up to do their best when they are in school every day. September is Attendance Awareness Month across the country, and unless students are sick, we really hope to see them every day in the classroom where quality teaching and learning happens. Student success is also largely dependent on our nearly 5,000 volunteers. We welcome you to become involved as a volunteer in our classrooms and in our schools. It makes a big difference.
As the new superintendent, I also want you to be aware that the 2017-18 school year marks the final year of an expiring 5-year Olympia School District Strategic Plan. The results of that plan have been stellar over the past four years. The Olympia School District has never been more diverse ethnically and socio-economically, and in 2016 it boasted an on-time graduation rate of 90% — an achievement that can only be claimed by a small group of districts in the state of Washington. And as you probably already know, the Olympia School District accounted for 40% of all schools in the region recognized with the State's Academic Achievement Award for student growth. Seven of our schools in all were recognized, with the next closest district receiving two awards.
This type of excellence is an expectation in Olympia that must continue with our next strategic plan. At the same time, we must look closely at our student data and outcomes and determine who is not being as successful as we would hope in our system. In our next strategic plan, we must determine what steps and practices must change to reach a 100% on-time graduation rate so that all students reach their academic potential. The school board has set goals for the year around this and given specific direction to me on how to move forward.
By the end of this year, with community engagement, we will create a new strategic plan for the purpose of managing the future work of the district. The work will include establishing agreement among Olympia School District stakeholders around shared core beliefs and student outcomes, setting priorities, focusing resources, strengthening operations, and ensuring that all staff are working toward common goals. The plan will include the continued development of a district vision for equity and the organizational development required to enact the vision; consideration of the social/emotional, and mental health of our students and how best to support them; a continued focus on early learning while incorporating the recommendations from the 2017 Early Learning Report; and relentless pursuit of closing the achievement/opportunity gaps. Stay tuned for upcoming information in future Spotlight on Success newsletters around how you can be a part of the development of the new strategic plan.
Enjoy family and friends during these last few days of summer break. Our teachers and support staff are hard at work preparing their classrooms and buildings for that all-important first day of school. Whether you have a kindergartner new to our system, a senior embarking on their final year, or a student in one of the grades in between, we hope you have a wonderful and memorable start to the new school year.
The first day of school for the 2017-18 school year is Wednesday, September 6. Kindergarten and preschool begins on Monday, September 11 (except for Lincoln Elementary). Lincoln Elementary kindergarten students will begin school on Wednesday, September 6, as part of combined K-1 classes.
The first day of school can be both exciting and stressful. We have put together a few resources that will make it easier for our students and parents to get the school year off to a great start! View our Back to School page for links to resources like school supplies, bus routes, new student registration and more.
Please visit our Child Nutrition Services Web page for any questions you may have regarding Breakfast and Lunch programs, including Free and Reduced meals and applications. You can also find districtwide menu and meal information for the upcoming school year here.
Please note the new 50-minute early release schedule on Wednesdays for this school year. Also, on the printed/paper 2017-18 school year calendars, November 9 is listed as an early release/half day for middle school students. This is an error. November 9 is a regular, full day for all middle school students.
We can't wait to see our students and families on September 6!
Superintendent Murphy recently swung by Garfield Elementary School to visit one of the locations of the South Sound YMCA's Power Scholars Academies.
Power Scholars offers summer learning opportunities for students interested in continuing their momentum in the classroom through the summer months. Students from Olympia School District, North Thurston Public Schools and Tumwater School District participate in this wonderful regional program. Along with working on math and reading, students in the Power Scholars Academy have access to the community lunch program and site playground facilities. Curriculum for the Academy was developed in partnership with Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) and Scholastic.
We are thrilled to be a part of this amazing partnership. What an incredible group of dedicated students!
Progress is visible throughout the school district on the first wave of construction projects approved by voters as part of the February 2016 school improvements bond.
Here is a summary of progress made to date on several major construction projects, as well as work planned this school year:
Classroom Mini-Building Construction
You don’t need to drive far around the district before noticing one of the most visible bond improvements — the addition of a two-story classroom mini-building at five of the district’s 11 elementary schools.
Construction started in February and is nearing completion on the Hansen and Pioneer elementary school mini-buildings. Workers are currently installing roofing, windows, siding, and making the school weather-tight to protect from rain and other elements.
The Hansen and Pioneer classroom additions are expected to be substantially complete by the end of October, said Kurt Cross, director of capital planning and construction.
Work also continues this fall on the Roosevelt, McLane and Centennial elementary school mini-buildings. Roosevelt Elementary School’s addition is slated to be substantially complete by the end of November, McLane Elementary by the end of March, followed by Centennial Elementary at the end of April.
The 10-classroom mini-buildings will provide space needed to comply with state-mandated smaller class sizes, while also reducing reliance on portable classrooms.
Each of the mini-buildings will have eight classrooms, a music room, a commons/general classroom space for multiple uses, small learning areas between classrooms for small-group teaching and learning, a musical instrument storage area, and an administrative office and storage area. Each building will also have a covered walkway connecting it to the main school building at each site, an elevator, two sets of stairs, and restrooms on each floor.
Exterior finishes and colors will be designed to coordinate with the main one-story school buildings on the same campus.
Capital High School Track and Field Improvements
This summer has been a time for celebration for Capital High School and the surrounding community as a new synthetic turf field opened just in time for fall sports practice.
The track and field improvement project is nearing completion, Cross said. Remaining work includes striping the track, hydroseeding areas around the track, and completing installation of gates.
The track is planned to be striped in September, Cross said. The track and field will be able to be used year-round thanks to the installation of recreational low-level field lighting.
Other projects completed at end of the 2016-17 school and over summer
What is planned this school year?
The Olympia School District joins the State of Washington and the nation in recognizing September as Attendance Awareness Month.
Every school day counts and regular attendance is crucial to student success. Students who miss just 18 days a year, or two days per month are considered chronically absent. Chronically absent students are more likely to fall behind in reading and math and less likely to graduate from high school. Developing good attendance habits early sets the stage for success in high school, college and beyond.
Our schools and staff are committed to ensure all students fully benefit from their education by attending school regularly. We ask our parents, families and the entire community to join us and help our students be successful by making every school day count.
Awareness Month was started in 2013 by AttendanceWorks.org, a national and state initiative that promotes better policy and practice around school attendance.
The Olympia School District has three school board seats on the November 7, 2017 General Election ballot.
The following candidates are vying for one of the three board seats:
If interested in voting this November, note the following voter registration deadlines:
To register to vote in Thurston County, applicants must be:
Register by mail
Voter registration forms are available at public libraries, staffed fire stations in unincorporated Thurston County, city clerks' offices, most state offices and the Thurston County Elections Division.
Forms may also be accessed on the Internet or by calling the Thurston County Elections Division at (360) 786-5408.
If registering by mail and it is the first time registering to vote in Thurston County, applicants must list on the form a Washington state driver’s license or the last four digits of their Social Security number.
It is easy to register online. A valid Washington state driver’s license or Washington state-issued identification card is required to register online.
Register in person
Thurston County residents not yet registered to vote in Washington who miss the October 10 mail-in or online deadline may register in person from October 11 through October 30. In-person voter registration is done at the Thurston County Elections Division, 2000 Lakeridge Dr. S.W., Bldg. 1 Rm. 118, Olympia, WA 98502. The Elections Division is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday except on the first Friday of the month when the office opens at 9 a.m.
Elections information may also be accessed through “MyVote,” available by signing up online: