Advisory Council Meeting Notes 7/31/2015



Dr. Geoffrey Goodfellow, Chair

Council Member Jeff Schulte and Parent

Lion's Representative John Thein

Amy Richards, Consultant, SBE

Dan Thompson, Alumnus and former faculty member

Superintendent Serena Preston, ISVI Superintendent

Aimee Veith, ISVI Education Principal

Debbie Buchanan, Executive Secretary II

Ann Panthen, Council Member and Parent

 The meeting was called to order by Dr. Geoffrey Goodfellow, Chair, at approximately 10:00 a.m.

 Motion to approve the agenda was made by Dan Thompson, seconded by Jeff Schulte, all YAY's, no NAY's. Motion passed, agenda approved.

 Chairman Goodfellow asked for any conflicts of interest with regards to the agenda. There was no response. Chairman Goodfellow said to let the record reflect that there was no conflict of interest.


 Superintendent Preston reported on personnel. She said that as of June 9th ISVI had 22 vacancies, but a few have been filled. She told the group that the PSA 8N position, (Nursing Supervisor) had been filled by Cindy Spreen who had been a nurse at ISVI but recently transferred out to D.O.C. for a while and will be coming back as the nurse supervisor at the Health Center. She said that the O & M positions still remained vacant, that we are still waiting on CMS to grade a couple of qualified candidates interested in the position. She said the functional curriculum educator position had been filled. This position previously held by Megan McGuire, who joined the staff for C. D. Davidsmeyers, had been filled by Debra Lotz. She said they were working on filling the P.E. educator position as well. She said the position formerly held by Joni Frisch had not been filled, but the position had been posted. Right now they were filling Julie Valentine position. She said they had interviewed for the High School English but had not officially filled that position. She said Dessa Surratt had been promoted to Social Worker II, up from a Social Worker I and that there were currently six Residential Care Worker vacancies. She said most of them were due to retirement at the end of the school year, and a couple had retired over summer most recently being this week. She said they are working on filling them. She said these positions have been posted, they are going through the bidding process, then interviews. Meanwhile we are thinking forward knowing that these folks will have to have training time. She said we are requesting six temporary positions and asking some of our recently retired RCW's to help us out. She said they know the job, the students and their backgrounds. Four out of six will help us out. Superintendent Preston said RCW's require three weeks of training. Even if we filled them all during the first days of school they could not work on their own without this training, but we have it covered. Superintendent Preston said that Robin Kindred, head of Tech Department, recently transferred to Springfield. Barry Wiser has been TA'd (temporarily assigned) to that position and was doing a wonderful job. She said we are in the process of getting that vacancy filled but once that position is filled it may require the need to fill another position. She said they had posted for a part time driver as well. A few years ago, we hired three part time drivers to transport students on home goings. Two of those positions are now vacant. Richard Gebhardt has been hired as a Stationary Engineer and another one resigned. She said another position they were working on was that previously held by Gail Olson. ISVI must establish a new position for Gail Olson's job. Gail had been before the council in the past giving presentations on HVEIO and more recently EL Vista, early intervention outreach programs. She said ISVI was hosting a professional conference coming up Monday for HVEIO. She said ISD no longer wants to share the intervention outreach person. They are doing their own which puts us in a position to have our own staff. We have to create a position and get it approved. She said it is in the process. As soon as we have permission we will fill it. Superintendent Preston said ISVI had another retirement as of this morning, Jeanette Gant retired out of the business office. Kim Gresham retired last week as an RCW.

 Dan Thompson commented that it would be interesting to see 1/3 of a driver.

 Superintendent Preston said Maintenance was working hard. Because one worker transferred out they are working doubly hard keeping things going. They are doing minor projects this summer in Health Life and Safety, repairing epoxy in shower stalls, switching out appliances. She said they had new appliances in storage to replace old ones. She said they had also done some minor electrical work putting in additional outlets.

 Superintendent Preston told the council that SB220 had passed and is going to save time because we will not have to wait for grades. Previously we were waiting six months or more for grades. SB200 only applies to ISBE licensed teachers. Other positions are not exempt. She said she was very pleased with the support and planning that went into getting that process in place. There were at least four group meetings to help them understand the process and what they could and could not do. She said they were very respectful and supportive. They had started a bit of that process and hope to start seeing some benefit. Kris Smith said that she and Kathy Barrow, ISVI and Angela Leavell at ISD were working together on making sure they have the process down pat so we can move more quickly. Kris said Kathy and Angela developed a detailed checklist of the hiring process because we do not want to skip anything.

 Residential Services Director Malinda Pollard gave her report. She said they are ready to hit the road running, they start training this coming week. She said she was really seeing a positive start to the school year.

 Vocational Principal David Miller was not in attendance. Superintendent Preston said the vocation department has domain meetings on four students next week. Six students were in the process of applying to ISVI but had not finished the paperwork. She said there was not a lot going on in the business office because of no budget. Other than health, life and safety there is no spending, not even grant money. She said they are behind for being prepared for instruction.

 Superintendent Preston told the council that drones were going to be used in the greenhouse. She said she understood that it would come as a kit and we build them. We will not be able to start out with those until money starts flowing. She said the health center was covered; Cyndi Spreen would be starting August 1. Superintendent Preston and Nurse Spreen worked together last year while Cyndi was completing her Master's degree and that Cyndi had worked previously with ISVI. Superintendent Preston said Cyndi had developed a wonderful anti-bullying project. Chairman Goodfellow asked if there were more vacancies this year than last. Superintendent Preston said there were more. Councilman Schulte asked if we would be able to operate the school to which Superintendent Preston replied yes. She said they had replaced Megan McGuire and hired another teacher for IEP liaison, Jasmine Wells to help Catherine Courtney. She said Jasmine Wells would also be able to take responsibility off of Sara Wells (which Sara was doing since a second IEP teacher retired that worked with our college students translating text books to braille and classroom teachers are putting in a lot of extra time). We have subs and we have candidates with grades but we can't move forward until positions are established. She said her office had been busy with several projects. We have been working on calendars and they are done. She said it is a picture calendar. We worked with ISD on the calendar however, after the calendar went to print ISD changed some dates so our calendar will have corrections.

She said they are working with Aimee Richards on a new braille code. She said there were 10 people on a statewide committee to figure out how to transition to IEB, the new braille system. She said the main meeting was very productive and they meet again August 11. Superintendent Preston said the low vision clinic was scheduled in October.

Chairman Goodfellow congratulated Kris Smith on her new position. Kris said she was happy to be the new Director; she had been in state government about 30 years working in multiple capacities. She said she would have to say I have never seen anything as chaotic as we are seeing now, that being said, it's out of my control, at the Capitol how our budget, how or when it will be settled. She said that she has no inside understanding of what's happening. They take notes from newspapers across the state and that's how they get their information. We do have a new Secretary, James Dimas, who was actually part of the formation of the DHS organization and worked with Howard Peters. His background is in strategies, planning, management strategies, pretty impressive guy. She said she felt like we were really in a good place with him as a leader putting together a strategic plan. Even with lack of a budget Secretary Dimas was the calm in all the chaos, that he had her vote of confidence. She said he is willing to visit both ISD and ISVI. She said they would be working this summer to develop a plan for ISD's lack of a superintendent, they were meeting with Beth Purvis who visited the schools last year and was very impressed with Serena and her team, saying the students at ISVI really did a super job showing their independent living skills at ISVI. She said they would be making an announcement next week concerning their plans for a superintendent at ISD. She said ISD is lacking an assistant superintendent. She said it was a very hectic summer with the Dr. Warshaw leaving and Marjorie Olsen retired. She spent much time working with grants for both schools and hoped she didn't drop any balls. She said we have approval on those grants, the money is there just need to be able to spend it. She said the Bureau of Blind Services had a vacancy due to the retirement of Betty Davis. She said getting a new Bureau Chief could be 18 months. She said they had an interview committee put together to interview candidates. She said there were four top candidates interviewed and next week she would interview the top two. She said they want that position filled. She said they need the leadership in place, they need to start rebuilding.

Kris Smith talked about a program designed to engage youth in the workforce who may have dropped out of school. She said the program requires 15% of BP funding of the actual money needs to go to transition services for the youth. They can be younger youth, it is a step program and another way of getting students engaged in employment. She said they have been in several meetings with other agencies, Board of Employment Security working together as a team for people with disabilities.

Kris Smith said talking about Beth Purvis when she was visiting the school she heard about the problems we have been having with CMS grading for candidates new to state government. She said it takes eight to nine months before an individual is able to get their grade and get on the eligibility list. She has personally reached out to the new Director of CMS. I want these applications pulled and these folks graded. It's important to have these positions filled at this school. That was a couple of weeks ago, there was little movement so I sent Beth word these are still outstanding. She said to feel free to call her and tell her and she would try to help. Her background is in blindness, she was a teacher. She understood the need for ISVI and ISD. Secretary Dimas approved my advocating for the school and getting Beth to advocate for the school.

Superintendent Preston and Kris Smith talked back and forth about the numbers for youth in transition. Kris said she believed the number was 24 but would have to verify. Superintendent Preston said this program was not just for youth that had dropped out of school, it could benefit a student at ISVI as well. Kris said she would provide Superintendent Preston with a synopsis of the program and to please share it with the Advisory Council. Superintendent Preston said they have a lot of clearly written information on their website WIOA. Superintendent Preston said she understood the program to be in the planning phase and has to be implemented by July 2016.


Education Principal Aimee Veith said at this time there had been 41 families that had registered online, or 66%. We think we will probably hit 70%. We thought if we made 50% that would be an excellent goal. Councilwoman Ann Panthem who is also a parent at ISVI said the process was simple and clear. She said it was great. Education Principal Veith said they were sending Skylert texts. She said they were hoping to get more involvement on Skylert. About the online registration she has heard it was painless and easy, even new parents said it was so easy. Councilman Schulte asked if they needed to come on August 16th if they registered online. Education Principal Veith said they do need to come because we do need some real signatures. But it will be faster she said and next year registration online will be much easier. She said a lot of people do not have access to computers or are not savvy, so you still have some interaction. She said Reuel Wright had done hours of research to make this happen. He would look at ISD forms, but our forms are different, like children who use large print. She said August 13th would be teacher's day and August 17th is a work day. We really appreciate it so we make a fun day for them. Superintendent Preston interjected saying last year the teacher's had a blast. She said I commend Aimee. Education Principal Veith went on to say there were 78 students when she started and there has been a decline in enrollment. She said last December 12 students aged out. She said it would hard to replace them but she thought we would. She told the group that Opening Doors and the western theme was very inspirational.

Education Principal Veith said the campers went off well, they were looking for field trip and places to go. She said the Lewis and Clark State Park is where they went and they had great feedback. She said it was wonderful just to get our kids out and staff.

Superintendent Preston said they have a new draft of the student work program. She said David Miller should be the person on that part, that the program has really been in transition. We have our social studies teacher serving as a social worker supervisor. She has a lot of students that could have been working but not enough time could be carved out, she said there was not enough time to get students work program in place. She said this will require students to do a number of volunteer hours that are verifiable on and off campus. They will allow staff and students to track the work experience and are going to put it in their portfolio. She said they were starting with students that are in transition age. She said those who do volunteer work at home during summer can put that in their portfolio. Councilwoman Panthem asked if it would include off campus work to which Superintendent Preston replied, "yes".


 Education Principal Veith said trivia night had waned, the next fund raiser they were going to try was a quarter auction. Spirit wear was still available for purchase. Education Principal Veith explained to the council how quarter auctions worked. Everyone seemed excited.

 There was no student council report and no report from Lion's Club. Amy Richards from ISBE said there were new IEP forms coming out. She said the changes to the form would have little effect on ISVI. Superintendent Preston pointed out that the changes dealt mostly with autism spectrum disorders, and also with what forms of communication a student will need. Superintendent Preston said she would find out more about the changes and when they are required in an upcoming meeting. Superintendent Preston told the council about the new UEB Braille. She said the first deadline is September 1st to declare what testing you will be using, EBAE OR UEB. Superintendent Preston said she did not think we would be able to do that (UEB) and don't think PARCC will do that. She said at first they were told PARCC would be in UEB but Aimee took care of that. She said our kids would not be able to read that.


 Chairman Goodfellow said they had been working for 2+ years trying to update the bylaws in an effort to get quorums for their meetings. The changes are to the number of members and their roles. The proposed changes call for three to four members to serve a three year term that are direct representatives of persons who are blind or visually impaired, (e.g. ISVI parents, alumni, or any individuals with blindness or visual impairments). Those elected were Jenny Bryson, an ISVI parent serving her first term 2015-2018; Ann Panthen, ISVI parent serving her second term 2014-2017 and also serving as Vice-Chairperson; Mark Peters, ISVI alum serving his first term 2015-2018; and Dan thompson, ISVI alum and Blind Services Planning Council serving his second term 2013-2016.

 Three to four members to serve three year terms that are non-DHS representatives from student supporting agencies or organizations (e.g., Illinois Association of Parents of Visually Impaired Students, ISU/NIU Vision Program, AER certified vision teacher, ICO faculty member, ISBE Special Education Department). Those elected to serve in this category are Dr. Geoffrey Goodfellow, Illinois College of Optometry serving his second term 2013-2016 and serving as Chairperson; Olaya Landa-Vialand, ISU, serving her first term 2015-2017 (a two year term to start stagger of board turnover); and Amy Richards, ISBE Special Education Department serving her first year term 2015-2018.

 Three to four members who are non-DHS representatives from graduate-supporting agencies or organization, (e.g., National Federation of the Blind, Illinois Council of the Blind, Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, Illinois Materials Center, Lions Club of Illinois, Jacksonville Local Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Blind Services Planning Council). Those elected in this category are Amy Lund, AER, serving her first term, 2015-2018; John Thein, Lions Club of Illinois, serving his first two year term 2015-2017 (again a two year term to start stagger of board turnover) and an un-named person from the National Federation of the Blind to serve their first year term 2015-2016, a one year term to start stagger of board turnover.

 Ex-Officio members are not to exceed 20% of the total elected membership and are to serve one year terms. Those elected are Mayor Andy Ezard representing the city of Jacksonville; Lisa McDaniel, representing IAER, ISBE licensed teacher of blind/visually impaired and an unnamed person representing ISVI Student Council President.

 A motion to accept the above memberships was made by Dan Thompson, seconded by Ann Panthem with all "yes" votes and no "nay" votes.

 A motion to re-appoint Dr. Goodfellow Chair was made and seconded by Dan Thompson was approved with all yes and no "nay" votes.

 A motion to appoint Ann Panthem Vice-Chair was made by Chairman Goodfellow and seconded by Dan Thompson, followed by all "yes" votes and no "nay" votes.

 A motion was made by Chairman Goodfellow to elect John Thein secretary seconded by Dan Thompson with all "yes" votes and no "nay" votes. The ISVI executive secretary will continue to take minutes of each Advisory Council meeting.

 The council heard an update on ISD's interest in no longer being under DHS and going out on their own. The group behind the push wants to become a deaf academy. Kris Smith pointed out that this is just two private persons working on this movement. She said if you want them to talk to you they would do that, that they are doing informational meetings. She said the group has been talking with CD Davidsmeyer, Sam McCann, Andy Manar and John Sullivan. They are scheduled to meet with AFSCME and IFT. They are scheduled to take a vote at the advisory meeting on September 11th. Chairman Goodfellow said they have reached out to him through emails which he has shared with Superintendent Preston. He said he is trying to be as transparent as possible. He said they are looking for support from ISVI Advisory but he said we cannot act in that way. He said his feeling is that there could be a lot of unintended consequences by pulling out and doing it by yourself. He felt it would be hard for the students in the long run. Education Principal Veith asked if they were still calling themselves "Deaf Hearts"? Kris Smith said it was just Paula and Jerry, that no one had heard that name. Superintendent Preston asked, so this is not ISD Advisory? She asked if these meetings were taking place at Advisory? Kris Smith said that Paula had asked for two different days, she wants to call special meeting and have Advisory or anyone who wants to attend in order to provide information about their proposal. She said it's posted on their website as an open meeting. She said she did not know if people would support it or not.

 Chairman Goodfellow said our meetings would continue on a quarterly basis as previously established. He said Fridays seemed to be best and everyone agreed to the 4th Friday of the quarter. Meeting dates are as follows: Friday, October 23, 2015; January 22, 2016; April 22, 2016; and July 29th, 2016. Chairman Goodfellow welcomed Kris Smith to continue to participate in the meetings as well. She said ISVI was a priority of hers, that she and Serena will continue to work together on a regular basis. She said they were trying to get Marjorie Olsen's position filled. She said more credentials had been added to the job description and there were about three people interested in that position. She said she would share with the council when the position is filled. She said she will be happy to give that up.

 Chairman Goodfellow made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Dan Thompson, and approved by the council with no "nay" votes. Meeting was adjourned at 12:21 p.m.