Weekly Update from the Superintendent - March 17, 2017

tchurchill Fri, 03/17/2017 - 8:45am
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March 17, 2017

This weekly update includes information from the District Office and department staff regarding District operations and reminders.  It does not include updates or activities from each school site.

Office of the Superintendent:

Caring Staff – This week I have been impressed with the compassion that Meridian staff members have demonstrated in their support of our students and our community as well as their support for our neighbors in the Lynden schools and community.  I am very proud to work with such a caring group of people.  A specific thank you to our counseling staff for their dedication to helping others.

Waiver Granted – This week I received word from the state that the District’s application for waiver of one of the snow-makeup days was approved.  The last day for students will officially be on Friday, June 23rd.  The last day for all school year employees will be on Monday, June 26th.

School Board:

The next School Board meeting is at 7:00 PM on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.  Board meetings are held in the Professional Development/Board Room at MHS.  All staff members are invited and welcome to attend School Board meetings.   Meeting agendas and minutes can be accessed via a link from the District web site or at http://www.boarddocs.com/wa/msdwa/Board.nsf/Public

Teaching and Learning: (Patti Fouts, Director of Teaching and Learning)

PLC’s and RTI - Last Wednesday, you had the opportunity to hear Mike Mattos, a nationally recognized educator, speak on the topics of working as a Professional Learning Community (PLC) and creating multi-tiered systems of support (RTI) in our schools.  This blog spot, Connecting PLCs and RTI, authored by Mattos, describes the essential link between PLC and RTI work.  

Human Resources: (Kurt Harvill, Director of Personnel)

Free Speech and Social Media - Even though the First Amendment protects your speech as a private citizen on matters of public concern, such speech may fall outside of First Amendment protection if it "impedes your employer's effectiveness or efficiency, or otherwise disrupts the workplace."

Avoid posting anything on your profile page about your colleagues, administrators, or students, as well as using inappropriate or profane messages or graphics, or anything that would reflect negatively on your workplace.  

People often vent in social media because they do not feel heard or do not know the appropriate avenue to begin communication or resolve their concerns. If you observe negative comments on social media, do not react to the comments directly, instead privately encourage the person posting to contact the appropriate administrator.  The administrator can then make contact with the person and work to resolve concerns effectively.  

SafeSchools Alert - SafeSchools Alert is a resource available to students, staff and the community to report incidents in an anonymous and safe manner. The SafeSchools Alert link is located in the bottom left corner of the District website.  Click on the icon and you will enter the SafeSchools Alert and you will see the following message: “Meridian School District welcomes you to our SafeSchools Alert incident reporting system. To submit a tip, please click on a button.”  Simply click on how you would like to report the incident and follow the instructions.  This incident report will be sent to the appropriate building administrator.   Thanks for keeping Meridian Schools safe!

Business Office: (Daniel Yorton, Director of Business Services)

Travel Policy Change (Meal Reimbursements) - The School Board recently (February 20, 2017) adopted a revision to District procedure 6213P regarding the reimbursement of travel expenditures. 

The most notable change in these new procedures is that meal reimbursements now have a cap on how much will be reimbursed to employees.  In the past, employees were reimbursed for the total cost of meals as long as they were “reasonable”.  This was problematic because there was no clear expectation on what would be considered “reasonable”. 

The new District procedure states:

Itemized receipts are required for reimbursement of reasonable actual meal costs. The maximum amount to be reimbursed for meals may not exceed the Washington State meal per diem rate schedule found on the Office of Financial Management website at http://www.ofm.wa.gov/resources/travel.asp

The rate schedule is broken down by county. Employees will be reimbursed up to the amount listed for each county where the meal is purchased.

Any costs in excess of these amounts are at the personal expense of the individual.”

The maximum meal reimbursement rate varies on whether you are eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner and what county you are in.  For example, if you are in travel status and entitle to a meal in Whatcom or Skagit County you would be entitle to up to $13 for breakfast, $15 for lunch, and $23 for dinner.  If you are in King County you would be entitled to up to $19 for breakfast, $22 for lunch, and $33 for dinner.  Itemized receipts for meals are still required and you will be reimbursed for up to the allowable amount per the State meal per diem rate schedule.

The new procedure will be initiated on April 1, 2017.  Before going into work travel status, please review policy and procedure 6213 and 6213P and the Washington State meal per diem rate schedule for the County where you will be in travel status.  If you have any questions about travel reimbursement, please contact Daniel Yorton, Director of Business and Finance. 

My Favorite Thomas Edison Quote of the Week:  “Be courageous!  Whatever setbacks America has encountered, it has always emerged as a stronger and more prosperous nation. Be brave as your fathers before you.  Have faith and go forward!”