ISVI Advisory Council Meeting Notes - October 24, 2014


Dr. Geoffrey Goodfellow, Chair

Dan Thompson, Alumnus and former faculty member

Howard Thomas, Alumnus and member of the Illinois County of Blind

Superintendent Preston, ISVI Superintendent

Debbie Buchanan, Exec. Secretary

Marjorie Olson

Aimee Veith, ISVI Education Principal

David Miller, ISVI Vocational Principal

The meeting was called to order at 10:07 a.m. by Dr. Goodfellow. And introduction of all present were made. Dr. Goodfellow remarked on the trend of smaller groups. Dr. Goodfellow noted the problem with the small turnout today was no quorum so no vote could be taken and the minutes of the prior meeting could not be approved. Superintendent Preston informed the council that Todd Williams accepted a different position with the Board of Education and would not remain on the council. Superintendent Preston further informed the council that Mayor Ezard could not be at today's meeting due to an incident in Jacksonville overnight that would require his full attention.

The agenda was reviewed and accepted.

Dr. Goodfellow said to let the record reflect no conflict of interest.

Next on the Agenda are Reports. Superintendent Preston gave her report. But first Mr. Thompson asked Superintendent Preston to explain Skylert. Superintendent Preston explained to Mr. Thompson how Skylert was a mode of getting alerts to parents and others in the school system.

In personnel Superintendent Preston said there are three new staff in dietary replacing some that have retired, some that transferred to housekeeping and some that transferred to ISD. She said they were working to get that department filled back up. Superintendent Preston said there were still vacancies in RCW's. Still need overtime to cover trips and emergencies. Some positions are getting filled.

Superintendent Preston said there were still three positions that continue to be vacant in teaching. Two of those are CTE positions. In shop class we have the same sub and he has been there for a long time. He has a license from ISBE that CMS does not recognize. We are working with CMS to help them understand so he can get a grade.

Several potential teachers have submitted applications to CMS. Two people are English certified. We are waiting on Springfield. The other position is IEP/liaison teacher, a full time vacancy, she's very interested in working here, she has a child who goes to ISD and she wants to relocate here. Superintendent Preston said there were a couple of teachers on leave right now and that coupled with regular call offs increase the need for more subs.

Superintendent Preston said there were retirements within the agency, Nancy Shive and Steve Shive were retiring on December 31, Aaron Singleton is retiring and Gail Olson would be retired at the end of October. Gail gets a lot done in a short amount of time and she is going to try and help us continue working on Parent Infant and ISVI-P. Dr. Goodfellow asked Superintendent Preston if she was trying to get people hired for these positions. Superintendent Preston explained that there are nine unions on campus and there would be transfer rights of employees from other worksites. Dr. Goodfellow asked Superintendent Preston if she would have any say, she replied that filling these positions would be subject to contractual rights. Superintendent Preston said she was hopeful they would get someone in Steve's place a few weeks before he leaves so that person could job shadow Steve for a while. Superintendent Preston said the librarian will probably not be as quick. Superintendent Preston said Nancy Shive runs APH quota funds but would work with Superintendent Preston in getting Debbie Buchanan ready to run that program. Superintendent Preston said Aaron's spot would likely be filled quickly by a union transfer.

Marjorie Olson expressed concern for the description of certain titles that she felt fit the correctional staff more than the school staff. Superintendent Preston explained the process. It appears the librarian position will require more technology skills making the position harder to fill. Mr. Thompson asked Superintendent Preston if she thought Nancy would stay until they could find a replacement. Superintendent Preston said she hadn't asked yet but she didn't think Nancy would want to do that, that Nancy had a lot of things she wanted to do in her retirement.

Superintendent Preston turned the meeting over to Aimee Veith, Educational Principal at ISVI. Aimee said that they had recently received a type written letter in Braille from a student who had the opportunity to see President Jimmy Carter speak at Illinois College. The letter which had translation for the sighted was passed around for everyone to read. Aimee said the students had a really good time at IC. She said the students were one of the first groups in and they sat near the front but they did not get to shake hands with the President. Aimee reported that Darla Chambers will receive the "2014 Chapter 99 CEC Teacher of the Year Award" on November 9th. Aimee also reported that Cindy Kemp is helping with girls track and Darla Chamber is helping with goal ball.

Dr. Goodfellow said it would be a good idea to get the news of Darla Chamber's award out to the public. Marjorie Olson said it would be in the Governor's Report.

Dan Thompson asked for a definition of the ABC day schedules on the calendar. It was explained to him that they are schedules based on the time of day the school day ends, for instance Schedule C is travel day and the school day ends at 2:30. Schedule A is the regular school day schedule.

Superintendent Preston spoke about AdvancEd continuous school improvement required action for Governance and Autonomy. She indicated there really was nothing new but she reported on related efforts. She said AdvancEd team were calling for an organized print version of curriculum in core standards. Superintendent Preston stated they were not as far along in entering progress related to part of AdvancEd Professional Development. She said the ISVI team wants data more organized. She said with governance they were able to do interviews here now and we are now able to be involved in the specs. She said the December 31 AdvancEd update deadline has been extended. She said the extended deadline was due to issues with their computer system and they realized this.

Superintendent Preston reported that Gail Olson would be retiring at the end of the month. She will be working three days a week for ISU on a grant funded program.

Superintendent Preston said the school received a new speaker system and a new intercom system last summer. This concluded Superintendent Preston's report.

Dr. Goodfellow called for any new business.

Superintendent Preston reported on new business stating that the Dietary Department would be hosting a Halloween dance. She said the Health clinic gave flu shots to students with parent approval and opened them up to staff who wanted their seasonal flu shots.

Superintendent Preston reported on the new Skyward database system. She said it was an inter-need database that would be used for IEP meetings, and IEP's would go into Skyward. She said Skyward has an electronic alert system that would send you text messages concerning weather alerts or any other school alerts. She said they were in the process of getting that system up and running.

Superintendent Preston reported that there are ISU student teachers living in Unit 18 right now. She said they are also doing service projects and would be here a while.

Superintendent Preston reported that the Tech Department was "crazy busy" as usual. She reported the Residential Department now had library books available in the dorms. She said there was never an area for storage before but they have it now and that new blinds had been ordered for some of the dorms.

Marjorie Olson asked about training in the public school works to which Superintendent Preston explained that it was a Professional Development tool they were subscribing to that would replace a half a day of talks with a text message reminding you to do your training on your computer that had been provided. Superintendent Preston said that staff members are required to do certain training every year.

Superintendent Preston talked about the student pay in the Vocational Department. She said that student pay had to be tiered due to a lack of resources. A student who first enters the program enters in at Tier 1, which is a voluntary or job shadowing type of position. At the 2nd level, or Tier 2, you might work a couple of hours, or be in training. Tier III, you are paid the minimum wage. It is a new program that has to take into consideration those who are already working who are also being paid the minimum wage. Superintendent Preston said you had to be careful not to let a volunteer do someone's job.

Superintendent Preston told the board about some unexpected expenses, the repair of an oven in the dietary department to the tune of $1500 and a freezer door seal on a 25 year old freezer.

Superintendent Preston reported on her trip to Louisville, Kentucky the prior week for two back to back national conferences involving school services for the blind. She said in addition to schools are also Perkins, AFB and AER and parents of the visually impaired. She said there were a lot of folks there. She said the main focus of the conferences were for Superintendents, CEO's and Principals. They discussed strategic planning for COSB and what direction we want that to take. She said that right before the conference they were organized into regions, so that every other month they will have conference calls. She said her region consisted of Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan and Wisconsin. She said the 2nd conference in Louisville was the American Printing House for the Blind. She said it was opportunity to review new products in development and was very exciting. She said a couple of the products would be tested here. One of the products is a I-Braille Challenge app for your iPad. She said they would also be testing a math app for the iPad. The apps will be out in about a year, available in the iTunes Store. She thought they would be blue tooth compatible. She said there would be grants available for people with no funds to pay for the apps making it more accessible to more people.

Superintendent Preston told the council that ISVI's Parent Association would be hosting a Trivia Night this year. She said parent meetings were held on the 3rd Tuesday of odd months and this year they working on a new design for spirit wear. She said the kids were working on evergreen wreath sales that can be delivered wherever you tell them to send them. She said the wreaths were not cheap but were well worth the money. She said they were also working on a recipe book and were in need of recipes.

Dr. Goodfellow said he and Superintendent Preston had been working on cleaning up the by-laws of the organization and had some of their ideas on paper. Dr. Goodfellow said that maybe they could finalize them at the next meeting. Superintendent Preston said they had to be careful because some of the by-laws are mandated and are in the ILCS. Marjorie Olson indicated that she had already checked on that and it was good. Dan and Howard indicated that in the 1st Section, Article E, they were asking that those restrictions be lifted. Dan Thompson said sometimes students are out of school for a short time and have no interest in coming back. Being recently out of school they felt was not necessary. They felt just being an alumnus was enough. Dr. Goodfellow told Dan Thompson and Howard Thomas that he and Superintendent Preston were already in agreement with that and had already struck out the restrictions. Superintendent felt it was necessary to speak to every scenario in the by-laws. She said the by-laws represent how you want it to be and if you can't meet then you need to reflect that in the minutes. She said they need to provide for more flexibility. Superintendent Preston pondered whether or not meeting via telephone conference or an online meeting may be more accommodating to members of the council. Dan Thompson said the Blind Planning Council does four meetings now, one in person and three by phone. Howard Thomas felt by phone be better. Dr. Goodfellow felt the meetings should be in person with the ability to elect to attend by conference call. Marjorie Olson said that ISD does phone conferences and use an interpreter. Dr. Goodfellow felt it made sense to have live meetings since most of the participants are from the Jacksonville area and then allow for skyping for participants who cannot make it any other way. It was agreed that live meeting should be encouraged with call in and computer based capabilities. Superintendent Preston said she would look into some of the suggestions for phone conferencing. Dr. Goodfellow said that on number six they agreed to take out "(a state board member)". A suggestion was made to change the title from "Illinois School for the Blind", to "Illinois School of the Blind".

A suggestion was made to add to the words "conference call" that a member's participation in a meeting could also be "electronic".

Superintendent Preston said that the group COSB votes electronically. Dr. Goodfellow as in agreement that the Advisory Council should have the ability to vote electronically, and that work on that should be started. Dr. Goodfellow suggested that they get names together via email for a quorum in order to vote. Dr. Goodfellow recommended that an email go out as reminder of the January 23rd meeting so that they know now from those who know they can't attend.

Superintendent Preston told the council about the Enrichment Day scheduled in the near future for the kids at ISVI. She said the kids would be having a presentation on animals indigenous to Illinois: eagles, hawks, owls, etc. She said the kids would be able to touch the animals.

Superintendent Preston said that Congressman Paul Findley invited the kids to his home as a follow up to President Carter's special. The kids wanted to see Congressman Findley.

Superintendent Preston said that they have the opportunity of sending a teacher to San Antonio, Texas to help construct a Braille PARCC assessment at no cost to the school. We can elect to do testing online. There is another opportunity for students to beta test electronic test items. This project is funded through OSEP and run by Kansas DOE. Superintendent Preston said ISVI is one of the first to test the products and that ISVI has the responsibility of providing feedback.

The meeting was adjourned with no official business being conducted at approximately 11:45 a.m. by Dr. Goodfellow