Division of Administrative Services
How Secure Is My Password?: Did you know it only takes a desktop PC less than 1 second to crack an eight-digit password containing only numbers or letters? Check out this website to test yours. https://howsecureismypassword.net/ Beginning with our December 2013 release, SMART Systems Software will be requiring an eight-digit password containing a combination of letter, numbers and symbols to log into ESS (Employee Self Service Website) and SMARTeR (administrative component to the ESS software). The current rule of a minimum eight character password is still valid but in December you will be required to have a password with at least one lower case letter, one upper case letter, one number and one symbol. We are implementing more stringent passwords to follow industry standards. In addition, the employee will be required to answer a security question before getting into the ESS/SMARTeR Website. Detailed documentation about this change will be sent out to member districts in December prior to the v13.2 release of SMART Systems Software. The new security information will also be shared with payroll/HR staff at the Calendar Year End meetings. Please feel free to call Sue Buysse at 507-537-2276 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns you may have.
Health and Safety Update: Michael Oxborough, Minnesota Department of Education Health and Safety Finance Specialist who has approved health and safety projects and alternative facility projects for funding, has accepted another position and will leave MDE effective November 12. We congratulate him and wish him well in his new job. The MDE has begun the search for his replacement, but in the interim, questions regarding project approval for health and safety or alternative facilities funding can be directed to his supervisor, Karen Dykoski at 651-582-8766 or email@example.com or Christine Schmitt at the SW/WC SC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-537-2262.
Cooperative Purchasing Announces Express: We are extremely excited to share with you a new direction for our Cooperative Purchasing program! Over the past year, the statewide CP program has been working to build an online marketplace. The goal of the marketplace is to provide ease of access to our most commonly used contracts through a single online solution. We have named the marketplace Express. We are nearing the completion of the site and are performing our final tests. Express has been built to make purchasing an easier task by providing:
--Quick access to multiple contracts through a single website with a single user name and password
-- Guaranteed contract pricing on each purchase
--Custom approval workflows allowing organizations to manage how users can place orders (allows you to customize the approval process for requisitions)
--Flexible payment options through Purchase Order or Credit Card
The site is password protected and only available for orders from eligible organizations. We will be demonstrating Express at the SW/WC SC over the coming weeks. If you are interested in more information on Express, contact Shareen Neumann at 507-537-2279 or email@example.com. We cannot wait to show you the benefits of shopping on Express!
Technical Support Helpdesk: If you're looking for technical support from SW/WC SC, it is important to utilize our helpdesk so we can support you as efficiently as possible. The SW/WC SC Technology Support Helpdesk is staffed from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Friday, except for holidays observed by the SC. You can reach the helpdesk by phone at 507-537-2260 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Technology Dates for 13-14: The dates for our Technology Leadership Workshops (for Technology Directors, Coordinators and Integrationists.) will be December 10th, February 6th, April 22nd and June 17th. And don't forget the date for This is IT2 2014, our annual technology conference, which will begin with Pre-Conference sessions on March 13th and the full conference on March 14th. Visit www.swsc.org/techconf2014 for more details. Proposals for presentations are due November 22nd.
The Finances of iPads, Tablets and E-Readers: Did you take time to read this article written by Cathy Miller, MSBA Director of Legal and Policy Services, in the October 24th MSBA Newsletter? If you haven't, you should. Can you charge a fee to each student who gets an e-device? Can you charge a security deposit for the use of a device? Do you need to bid the purchase of these devices? Read Cathy's newsletter article at www.mnmsba.org.
Division of Risk Management Services
Small Group Status: We have received several inquiries into the definition of a small group employer. There are two issues in relation to small group status. First, for the 'Play or Pay' provision a small group is defined as those employers who employ fewer than 50 FTE who average at least 30 hours per week. This definition is NOT planned or expected to increase in the future greater than 50. The second issue of small group status is the size of a group that carriers must follow in regards to underwriting a group in the fully-insured marketplace. It is currently at 50 FTE's and will increase to 100 in 2016. Since the Insurance Pool is a self-insured pool these provisions to do not apply to any of our groups within the pool. If you still have questions on this, please contact Doug Deragisch at email@example.com.
Virtual Health Clinic: Use Online Care Anywhere® to talk to a doctor using video or secure text chat. No emails, no surveys, no waiting - you'll have a live conversation with a real doctor. Our U.S. board-certified doctors can answer your questions, diagnose your condition and prescribe medications. It's easy to use, confidential, and costs just $45 per visit and will coordinate with your insurance. The School Insurance Pool will provide ancillary supplies (scale, blood pressure cup, thermometers) for any school pool member who 'opens' a virtual clinic in their district. For more information on this, please contact Kari Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Division of Special Education Services
CPI Refresher in Worthington on November 15th
ECSE Fall Workshop in Redwood Falls on November 15th
CPI ASD Refresher Training in Raymond on November 18th
Division of Teaching & Learning Services
Conference for Young Writers: The 22nd Annual Conference for Young Writers is scheduled for January 8, 2014 (snow date - January 9) at SMSU in Marshall. Plan to send students (grades 3-8) to hear the keynoter, Debra Frasier, and participate in three hands-on sessions selected from a wide variety of classes related to writing. Frasier is the author and illustrator of many award-winning picture books including On The Day You Were Born and Miss Alaineus, A Vocabulary Disaster. A Fabulous Fair Alphabet began as a picture book that follows the arc of a day at the State Fair and has now grown into an alphabet fair booth and classroom project serving thousands of participants at the Minnesota State Fair and beyond. The conference brochure is available on our website at www.swsc.org/studentactivities.
November 19 - Early Bird Registration Deadline
November 26 - Final Registration Deadline
If you have questions about the conference, contact Sue Gorecki at email@example.com or 507-537-2258 or Andrea Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-537-2257.
Creative Writing: Remind students that the submission deadline for the Creative Writing Contest is January 17, 2014. This contest is for students in grades 3-12 with categories of Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Non-Fiction (grades 5-12). More details are available on our website. The students' written entries are first screened by SMSU creative writing students who score the submissions according to a rubric. Each submission is scored by multiple student judges. The entries with the highest scores are submitted to the final judges, faculty in the SMSU Creative Writing Program. An awards ceremony will be held on Sunday afternoon, April 27, 2014 for finalists, their families and teachers.
Junior High Knowledge Bowl (JHKB): If you'd like to start a JHKB program at your school, contact Sue Gorecki at email@example.com or 507-537-2258. Registration Deadlines: Early Bird Deadline - November 19; Final Deadline - November 26.