The ISVI Advisory Council meeting came to order on April 23, 2021 at approximately 10:00 a.m. via Zoom. In attendance were the following: Interim Superintendent Aimee Veith; Greg Ketchum, Council Person; Student Leo Tomich; Chairman Mark Peters; Outreach Michelle Clark and Councilwoman Becky Patton.
The minutes of the January 2021 meeting will need to be approved at July 2021 meeting because there is no quorum. It is anticipated there will be more members in July. Today's agenda was approved. There were conflicts of interest noted. A power point of the upcoming meeting was provided by Superintendent Veith.
Superintendent Veith gave the first report. Opened April 6th. She told the group the facility is looking at going to a 24 hour facility and currently has three more temporary nurses on staff and sanitation has been increased. No travel so far but do have day students going back and forth. Students will go home for Mother's Day. Students are screened everyday by RSS' and staff by TA nurses. Covid on Thursday's for everyone who consents, so far there have been no reported cases of covid. No news is good news on Thursdays. She told the group that Michelle Clark would be giving a report on Opening Doors which is virtual and going very well. Both prom and graduation will be in person following mitigations. She reported that the new roof on the pavilion should be done by May 15th in time for the prom. She said the Main building would be the last to get a new roof and not expected to begin until kids have left campus. She said we recently got some new sidewalks on campus and that project should be completed this weekend. TLC has been put back together and has all new carpet and all apartments have flat screen smart televisions. All the cabling was finished last night. She said they were able to do an event last weekend with everyone on WiFi and the WiFi held. There are still some dead areas in Main, hoping to add 3 wireless access points in the Main very soon and two out in the gym. If FY 21 money covers that cost, then FY 22 money we would only need 6 more wireless access points on campus then the entire campus will be wireless. We have been working with DHS also to get guest accounts so that students will be able to download necessary books at their own personal devices. This is a need not only for their own personal satisfaction so they could download a book if they wanted to read it and also meet any of their independent skills, We are hopeful that they will be able to use insta card and door dash and all of the independent apps. It is my understanding that Jacksonville will have some access to LYFT so they may be able to get some ride share apps and be able to use them in town when we return in the fall. This would support transition goals as well. WiFi is not satisfactory is kids can't get on it with their personal devices and use it for their independence skills. DHS is listening and we've made more progress in the last two weeks than I've seen in the last ten years on this issue.
The next report would be by Kerrie Rawlings who was unable to attend. Aimee said she could report on some of the things Kerrie has been working. She has been working on our subscriptions and all the contracts that we need to have in place for the fall. She has been busy in charge of temporary programs such as nurses, ISD is using Favorite Person Janitorial services at this time as well so she was in charge of all the contracts for all of those as well as procuring all the PPE products that we have on campus which keeps her very busy. We are also have been working very closely with her regarding the FY22 budget and what we need moving forward. Today she is attending a CTE conference for us so that we can keep our grants. Aimee said she thought Mr. Hamer, Chief of Staff, was going to attend, but he's not here. We will wait until later to see if he pops in.
Chairman Peters moving on down the agenda asked if Barbi Ballard, Education Principal, was in attendance. Mrs. Veith said she is here however she is attending Connections Conference and doing both Principal roles right now. As you are aware Sheila Stephens was able to do some of the Principal roles for us this year. She is down to 1 day a week because she is getting a new grand child soon. She will work remotely to help closeout the IDEA B grant for this year. David Miller came back for the month of May to help with IEPs so we could close out the year. He will be mostly remote.
Mrs. Veith said the PTO was next agenda item. She said she was able to work with a local banker at CNB and we can transfer all the account, permission for Christy Wyman and Leslie Lynch to take that over. She explained to Becky Patton about what happened, the untimely death of our previous PTO person. We had to get permission for those two to take it over since they are DHS employees. They are going to be able to take over the banking account, but it's been a process to get the paperwork to prove Tracy is no longer with us and be able to transfer everything over.
School and staff report. Mrs. Veith said Deb Morris is off today, but they met the day before. We have one educator that has announced her retirement in March of next year. We did get permission to go ahead and post that internally which we will do next week. We also have permission to post a preschool education position. We will post both internally which means we will go around to all the teachers to see if anyone internally want to fill. If no one fills them they are ready to go up for post as soon as that bid is done. If not, we will post whatever position that person is in currently. Also have permission to post Information Processing Educator. That has been posted several times so it will go directly outside. It's been arduous process to say that no longer requires a CTEI PEL that someone with an education license with stipulations could get the job. That means that there still equally qualified just a different licensure. We have some candidates and we've known that for 5 years who have that license and have been doing a nice job so we expect that job will be filled in the fall with a real person with real benefits and everything else moving forward. So, this has been clarified into a CTE position so that's also something has been an ongoing need through CMS. The CTE Principal job we hope to be able to post soon. Made it to the final step in their new process. We had to meet with them and clarify the position and had to go back through a process, then meet, then we must turn in what we think are questions. We know we have candidates that have applied for this job so it would be my hope we could fill that this summer and be ready for fall with a new person. The other position we got good news on yesterday are three RCW positions that will be posted very soon as well as two RSSs and then we are on the final end of clarification for the three RN positions so we will be a 24-7 nursing facility when we return in August. We have 2 or 3 dietary positions being posted as well as and a couple of other positions still out for clarification, newer positions we are looking at trying to bring on. Admissions and Records has been clarified, that should go up very soon but the best news finally is that IT should be posted on Monday so Mr. Wright is retiring on June 30, and we have to have that person to meet all the reports for State Board of Ed and make sure every dot is crossed and everything is turned in on time to meet those deadlines. He is very good at his job and he will be missed a lot. He has agreed to come back on a temporary basis to help train the new person and to be sure we don't miss any deadlines.
Next agenda item, Residential. Director of Residential Services Malinda Pollard was not available for the meeting but did submit a written report. All the RCWs returned to work on March 15th. They began in the buildings to be making sure everything was set up and distanced for the kids. We did that in the fall, but we redid it to be sure everything was working well. They worked through registration and did some training. I think everything is going very well in the dorms. I've been in there several times; all the meals are being delivered to the dorms so RCWs are expected to do a little extra cleaning and everybody is pitching in and doing their part. It's still 1 student per room. We are offering our hybrid students who are eligible to come to prom, if they want to come that weekend, then that would be the only weekend that they may have to share a bathroom, but they would still have their own room.
Next Agenda item, Old Business, Legal Updates. Mrs. Veith told the group about a proposal that was submitted to update requirements for both the Superintendent at ISVI and ISD. The current requirements at ISVI is that you obviously have a Superintendent's degree, have a degree to teach children who are blind or visually impaired and have 15 years of experience. So, we FOID ISBE to see if anyone met those requirements. We found out there are only four people in the State who meet those requirements, one of which is Dr. Preston, and she is retired. Two which are two special ed administrators in like Lake in the Hills one in maybe Gurney, they are very happy where they are and have no intention of moving to Jacksonville and uprooting their families and they're both in the latter part of their careers. Another person is also retired which means there are no candidates that meet those requirements and similarly with ISD. Not that Julee Nist is going anywhere but if you are going to do it let's just look into all of it. What the new law will propose, and it has gone onto committee and now is out of committee so the next time they are there they will likely pass it. What it proposes is that the person have superintendent's license and it will prefer a teacher of the visually impaired license just not required but it is required they have 10 years of working with blind and visually impaired individuals in either an education setting or a vocational rehab setting. And similarly, for ISD. We had talked about one other legal update; we were hopeful that it would pass that students who turned 21 within a school year would be able to complete said school year. That did not pass. It was an unfunded mandate that most school districts felt like they could not support and they feel like, once that child turns 21 they are then the responsibility of the Department of Human Services so they feel like as a state we need to do a better job with adult services so I think there is a good argument on both sides. I would love to keep our kids here, but I certainly was in the minority on that law. There is a part of law attached to that for zero to 3 and it says that if you have a child 0 to 3 and they age out in the middle of a school year they don't have to transition to a school like that. If you child had a birthday in May, they turn 3 they had to leave our services, they may or may not get summer services depending on what the school could offer so now we can keep them until August so they can make an easier transition into school That law will take effect in August. Mark Peters asked Mrs. Veith why ISVI decided to offer a preschool now. Mrs. Veith said this was something she had been pushing for, for several years. It was so hard at Opening Doors with these parents who see this amazing campus and then say I'm sorry I can't accept your child because we don't have a preschool. We were able to survey all the parents and reach out to them and for 3-4 years I've been presenting that we have 7 or 8 kids that need our services in our immediate area, those are kids that are driving back forth. We were able to prove there was a need and we have the space. We just need the personnel. A lot of the curriculum money will come from IDEA B grant. As far as cost it won't increase overall except for the fact we have to have a teacher. We expect we will open in the fall with at least 4 kids that are already signed up. Two are from Jacksonville, one from Pittsfield and one from New Berlin. And our phones keep ringing. We also have talked about a half day preschool if we get to higher numbers and serve as many kids as we possibly can. It's kind of a field of dreams and I'm really kind of getting worried we won't be able to be building as fast as they come. When asked about location Mrs. Veith said Mrs. Provence in 17 has already moved and her old room is now open for preschool. We have furniture ready. We had some in storage. A nursery school in town closed so they donated all their stuff to preschool, so we did kind of go in last and was able to get some tables and toys. We have enough to start. Mrs. Veith estimated the last time ISVI had a preschool was 16 years. She said ISD was up to 37 kids in their preschool program. She said she hoped we didn't have that many because it would be very sad to think there were that many students in the area who needed the services, we were unable to provide. I would love to serve them.
Next agenda item, COVID 19, Mrs. Veith said covid was not going away. We have told staff that we expect we open much like we closed. There will still be some people working remote. Michelle Clark is here today but she is mostly remote. She is successfully working from home, Reuel Wright is successfully working from home. The Business Office because they are in close quarters, we have them coming in every other day. There are still many offices in the State that are still working at home and some decisions being made much higher than we are, what's that going to look like moving forward and whose decisions to be made about what workers effectively from home.
Andy Ezard joined the meeting at this time. Mrs. Veith told Mayor Ezard that driving through town the other day she saw one of our kids walking down the sidewalk which was very good to see. She asked about an update on the sidewalk coming toward ISVI on East State Street. He said hopefully everything would be completed by the end of summer. He said the sidewalk in front of building would be fixed this summer too.
New business, new members. Chairman Peters said he had reached out to a few. Greg Ketchum said he talked to Dan and he said he would gladly accept. Kirsten did send a letter of intent. Mrs. Veith said she is a teacher of the visually impaired in eastern Illinois Association of Special Ed. She's in the Charleston area. Jean from West Central Mass Transit may come on board, who will represent groups that serve people with visual impairments in the Jacksonville area. Peters gave an update on Mass Transit saying they were getting ready to put fare boxes on the busses. Not sure when they will start using them, but they are installing them. Jean will be a good resource as far as that type of thing goes. Mrs. Veith told the group that right now you must have the exact amount of money to use to use the service which Peters agreed. Once the fare boxes go in the drivers will not have change. You will have to bring your own money or get a pass.
Rebecca Patton was introduced as a new council woman. Mrs. Veith interpreted for Mrs. Patton who signed. She said she is the statewide blind and deaf service coordinator for DCFS. My job is to help all of our department when we have a family or a child or a caretaker or foster parent or somebody who are deaf or blind and they need any kind of services such as drug services, treatment or homemaker help, learning how to perhaps raise children, protect them, their own children, educational domestic violence, help in maybe finding services for them or their family or children. My really important biggest job is to be sure we are providing interpreters when we go into the homes of deaf families but for the blind and visually impaired child that they are struggling with perhaps school work or how to find help for them or tools for them short term parenting needs, education for the parents and foster parents and families they would need that education on how to take care of a child who is blind or visually impaired. I am also on the board for Illinois Advisory or for Deaf Blind, I'm on that board as well. She asked if she needed a letter from my Director to be on this board. Mrs. Veith said we do not require that. She did tell her supervisor. Mary Jane Million with Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce will join us in July and said she too was happy to do so.
Mrs. Veith told the group that in July we would be updating some bylaws and responsibilities. She said she and Chairman Peters reviewed those notes and will send out proposed changes after this meeting. In Section 1 it talks about responsibilities, educational adequacy for students with those disabilities accommodated by the school as related to IDEA, which is still in effect, but it also said "no child left behind", we will strike that and replace with "every student succeeds act, and then the Illinois State Board of Education Learning Standards, which are still in place. Also, she said in the responsibilities of the school, transitional and it said vocational, vocational is a word no longer being used, it's being replaced with Career and Technical Education programs, so we will strike and replace that and then the most important thing is that because of the pandemic, which is great, we now have the ability to have virtual meetings and count those as in person attendance so, we already in our things that we could electronic format but it didn't contain the word virtual so it will say that members may elect to participate in a meeting via a telephone conference call, which will still be an option, or other electronic/virtual formats available at the meeting location in accordance with Public Act 101-0640, which is Open Meetings Act.
Moving on to Leo Tomich, President of the ISVI Student Council, 2nd term. He said yesterday we had a meeting about prom and location and after prom location and food location trying to make sure all the mitigations are met so everybody can have a safe and enjoyable prom. As we all know this pandemic has been hard on everybody so we decided as the council that we will not deal with the stress and pressure of getting dresses and tuxedos, the dress is casual. It's an abnormal year so we're going to make it an abnormal prom. We will have custom shirts and masks and water bottles for drinks that will be served for prom. The theme is Underneath the Stars. We are back in person as Mrs. Veith has said and the dorms are being cleaned and I feel, and my parents feel safe sending me down here even though they want me home for Mother's Day so I'm glad they got what they wanted. Glad to go home for Mother's Day. We are keeping our masks on even outside just habit now. All the classes and teachers are sanitizing the desks and following protocol. Three members of the council right now one is remote and two on campus. Hopefully in the fall we will have more council members. Because of the pandemic and being we didn't have many members but hopefully next year we will have more. We are doing a survey to see if remote kids want to come to prom. Need to know for mitigation purposes. When asked about rec Leo said on Monday Wednesday and Friday, we do go swimming, we do have a lifeguard now. I don't think we have had recreational swimming for a couple of years. Mrs. Veith said getting lifeguards was a struggle. Leo said he was glad they got that. They are doing virtual and on campus bingo which is interesting because he did not know how it was going to work at first. Mrs. Kidd sanitizes all the cards and chips. The same chips get used for the year, so they don't have to be changed out, but you need different cards and passes them out to people for bingo and she plays the cards for the virtual students. She does have prizes kind of like an Amazon type thing. There's a picture and description of the item. You email her what you want and if she has it and you bingo you get it. Last week was a big event with everyone on zoom I DJ's until 5, It's my 2nd time doing it, trying to get used to it again. Rec has been going smoothly. Kids are planning on doing trash to treasures and mitigations will be met. Mrs. Veith explained you bid on your trash to treasure like an auction through Facebook like we did last year. When asked about after prom Mrs. Veith said it would be held in teen center. Mitigations will be met, and it will be held 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. When asked if volunteers could help Mrs. Veith said no. Seniors will be reaching out to Dan Thompson and Greg Ketchum to have a tour of the historical room. She also said that anyone wanting a tour of the campus should take a tour with Dan who has a wealth of historical knowledge. She said it was quite fascinating what Dan can tell about the history here.
Michelle Clark gave her report. Ms. Clark introduced herself. She said she was excited to be highlighting some of the important things that have happened during the year. When pandemic started, we were working on in person Opening Doors and it was decided at the last minute we were going virtual. So, a team of four, Aimee included, started putting things together. At the time the maximum number of participants for this three day event was only 11. So, we needed to think of ways to get the word out. As of March 2021, the ISVI webinars have increased drastically, we reached approximately 256 in October 2020. January 2021, we reached 155 people in attendance for the webinars. TVIs in the field started talking to APH Family Connect and we decided to partner with them and advertising on their calendar and Julia Bowman and Sara Edwards started presenting for them we have become recognized worldwide. We have countries just on ISVI webinars include the Philippines, United Kingdom, Russia, Canada, Turkey, Scotland reached out to Sara and Julia. They are working on presenting for their VI professionals in the near future. We've had people reach out from within the US, Virginia, Connecticut, Kentucky who are praising our school, thanking our team and the school for the services we are providing, getting the word out, our resources they think are just phenomenal. ISVI has had well known individuals present, Dr Paletko who brought in a large number, she's considered the national expert in the area of VI and autism. Another large attendance, Ellen LaBelle, was bought in. She's a TVI named National Teacher of the Year for children with multiple disabilities by the Council School for the Blind and I could name others, we'd be here another hour, all the stuff we've been doing. For Opening Doors this year is not in person, we are doing another virtual program, June 2nd through June 5th. Our numbers today stand at 45 families signed up to participate. It's a very large number. ISVI is really getting their name out there and we are definitely expanding, and we are excited about that. Mrs. Veith told Ms. Patton that Opening Doors was opened to professionals as well. Mrs. Veith told the group that summer camp would be virtual this year as well. She said we are not getting people to sign up for summer camp as much as Opening Doors. It could be kids are just done with being remote. There are only 3 signed up at this time. We will open to our own students which we do not normally do because we usually don't have the space for them. We must have at least 10 kids to be able to do it. Families will be provided boxes of things to do during the week. If we do have Opening Doors on campus, we will still need to do a hybrid portion because there are certainly families who can't get to campus but need our services. Its a way to reach more people. When asked if Summer Camp could be on campus if the numbers were down Mrs. Veith said no. The reason because we don't know enough about the campers and their health conditions like we do our own students. She said as vaccinations take place maybe we could do that in the future.
Mrs. Veith said the next date we are scheduled to meet is July 23rd, and Mrs. Veith is unavailable. She suggested July 9th or August 6th for a next meeting date. Everyone agreed with July 9th.
Councilman Greg Ketchum said he had one more question before adjournment. He said he had heard through the grapevine that some students were not able to attend ISVI or intake had slowed down because there were not enough people to test them. Mrs. Veith said some of what you say is true. She said there were 4 or5 kids whose apps were ready when we determined we were going to come back in April. She said there are IEP laws that says that we then we would have 60 days to domain that student and do all the testing that would be needed to be able to fully integrate their IEP. It wasn't that we don't have enough test. It was that we felt that at this time we could bring in kids and give them the time they needed with all the mitigations we have to do with covid and serve our current students at the same time. It's not that we didn't have enough staff it's more to do with covid and we felt like we needed to focus our energy on serving our current students and testing to see how much regression they had had and be able to give our full attention to them. Those kids that were in the hopper will be accepted in the fall. We have about 6 or 7 students whose applications are ready to be here in the fall and that does not include the four in preschool.
When asked if students were being granted O&M passes to go downtown, Mrs. Veith said no. She said we do have students who have the skills, but we are trying to keep our bubble very tight and limit any potential covid exposure. They are doing some orientation and mobility instructions with the instructor, but they are not going into businesses. Students can walk downtown as part of a lesson and order curbside to learn how to do those kinds of things and keep themselves safe, drink it in the park and walk home. We are opening up a few kids for some orientation and mobility shopping lessons, not just go out and free shop, because none of us should do that, but if it's part of your IEP and part of your life skill you need we are still doing that. We are also going to take one of the students to ISUE because she will be transferring in the fall so, we set up an orientation and mobility lesson on campus with them. Some of those things, we have a couple of kids that it's part of their IEP that they learn how to make transitions to busses and the only way we can do that is to take them to Springfield so we are going to allow that as part of their IEP.
Mrs. Veith told the group that graduation was May 28th, that she would keep them posted as far as whether we will be able to have it outside and Advisory members could attend.
The next meeting was scheduled for July 9th, 2021. Meeting then adjourned.