Dr. Geoffrey Goodfellow, Chair
Superintendent Serena Preston, ISVI Superintendent
Aimee Veith, ISVI Education Principal
David Miller, ISVI Vocational Principal
Marsha Schoth, Admissions and Records
Debbie Buchanan, Executive Secretary II
John Thein, Lion's and Council Member
Mark Peters, Alumni and Council Member
Amy Richards, ISBE and Council Member
Mayor Andy Ezard, Ex-Officio Member
Olaya Landa-Vialand, Council Member
Jesse Rogers, National Federation of Blind Vendors and Council Member
Lindsay Bates, High School Student Council Rep
Dr. Geoffrey Goodfellow called the meeting to order. He said before he began he would like to welcome our new members first. He then asked the group if they had read the minutes, and were there any corrections. There was no response so he asked for a motion to accept the minutes. Mark Peters made the motion to accept the minutes, seconded by John Thein. The motion passed with no nays. Dr. Goodfellow asked if there were any additions or changes anyone would like to make to the agenda. No response. Motion was made by Amy Richards to accept the agenda, seconded by Mark Peters. Motion passed with no nays. Dr. Goodfellow asked if there were any conflicts of interest with their acceptance of the agenda. No response. Dr. Goodfellow said to let the record reflect there is no conflict of interest.
Dr. Goodfellow said it was the first meeting of the school year and we meet quarterly. He said the last time it was sunny and summery. He said now the kids are back, it's fall, it's beautiful, the leaves are changing. With the new year we have new people at the table, new council members. He asked that we all introduce ourselves. He asked that we say who we are and what organization we represent. Introductions were made. We had John Thein, who represents the Lion's Club; Mayor Andy Ezard, Mayor of Jacksonville; Mark Peters, an alumni of the school; Amy Richards, State Board of Education; Jessy Rogers, NFBV and his wife Sharon; Dr. Geoffrey Goodfellow, Optometrist, Chair of the Advisory Council and representative of the Schools of Optometry; Superintendent Serena Preston; Olaya Landa-Vialand, Illinois State University; Deb Buchanan, Executive Secretary for ISVI; Marsha Schoth, Admissions and Records for ISVI; David Miller, Vocational Principal for ISVI; Aimee Veith, Education Principal for ISVI; Lindsay Bates, ISVI High School Student Council.
Dr. Goodfellow said we are all busy people with lots to do and he expressed his thanks to everyone at the table for their service. With that we commenced on down the agenda to reports. First to report, Superintendent Preston, she said currently she continues her responsibility of superintendent of ISVI and interim Superintendent of ISD. She said she does not have an assistant superintendent at either school but she does staff that are very capable supervisors, with good knowledge of the rules and procedures. She said she had staff she could count on to follow the rules and ask questions when necessary, that they were very good supervisors. She asked if anyone had any questions about that to which there was no response. She said the State of Illinois had posted the superintendent's vacancy for ISD. She said that process had just started. The O & M position is still vacant. She told the group that some things they had tried to do at this point to try and fill that vacancy. She said the skills taught by O & M are vital for visually impaired and blind people to have. She said the position was posted both as an O & M Instructor and as an O & M Trainee in case someone new fresh out of college without the experience, we could try to hire. She said before school started she reached out to a company who locate these services for you. She said they were very prompt in responding to her email. They said they were very sorry they could not locate anyone who would work in Illinois. She said she even reached out to a retired O & M instructor who lives in the southern part of the state but it's just too far for him to drive. We have someone from the Department of Rehabilitation right now who is assisting with evaluations for IEP's which have to be done every three years or when a student is new. But he is not interested because he already has a job. She said it was a strain on him to do this. He cannot provide ongoing services because he has a job. If anyone knows of someone who would be interested or a student who may be interested in special education to let us know. We will post again in the next two weeks. She said one Illinois college offers the program, and it is also offered in Western Michigan University, Little Rock, Colorado, and a few others. Next she told the group the functional curriculum educator had been filled since the last advisory council meeting but that teacher has decided to retire so that position will be vacant again. The P.E. teacher was posted but we learned additional needs for that position so it will have to be reposted. She said this is not a good time to hire teachers because they are under contract and the board has to vote and approve to release them. If they leave without approval they could have their license revoked. Superintendent Preston told the group that the 0-3 position vacated by Joni Frisch still is not filled. She said she was hopeful the new El Vista ISU students would have new people with an interest in these. The high school English teacher position had been filled by Becky Andrew and we are happy to have her. We have hired three RCWs and they are in process of being trained now. They will begin working one on one on November 1. One RCW is still vacant. We still have a vacancy in the IT Department and it has been filled but is awaiting CMS to grade applicants. CMS is 8-12 weeks behind. She said we filled two part time drivers. Superintendent Preston said we are still trying to get position established for Gail Olson's position. Superintendent Preston told the group that Jane Redmon was filling in temporarily in the HVEIO position. She talked about the conferences, the differences between the northern and southern parts of the state and how they focus differently. She said that this year's conference is still in the planning process. She said the Opening Doors for the next year will start next week. Education Principal Aimee Veith told the group they are trying to get a nationally known speaker Dr. Lueck whose focus would be on CVI for the upcoming IAER pre-conference. Superintendent Preston said the Business Office remains somewhat in limbo because the State of Illinois still has no budget. She said we are able to purchase some things like for health, life and safety. We make our purchases with certain merchants who understand they will not get paid maybe for many months. A number of vendors have been very understanding but some are beginning to cut us off. We are able to spend grant money such as CTEI and Perkins and we can order the things we have been approved to purchase with those grants. She said the accountant's position had been posted today. There is an upcoming E-rate meeting that Barry Wiser will attend with her. The Health Center was giving flu shots to students with permission, and to staff. Cyndi Spreen, our nurse supervisor, was the driving force behind our anti bullying program here at school.
Dr. Goodfellow said he would skip over to Ms. Lindsay Bates, High School Student Council Representative so she could get back to class.
Ms. Bates told the group that she was from Normal Illinois and that she was a 6th year student at ISVI and was 17 years old. She said she represented the High School Student Council. The student council had started a fundraiser where the student collects pledges to walk ten laps then collect the money and they were hoping for another successful year. Last year she said they raised over a thousand dollars. She said they use the money for student activities including hiring a limo to take them to prom. She said they had not decided on a theme for this year's prom. They are hoping to be able to join the Illinois High School Student Government Association this year and hoping to attend a conference. She said they talked about getting a speaker to come to campus. Dr. Goodfellow asked Ms. Bates how many students there were. She said they had not voted yet or had their first meeting. They are trying to find out when the meetings will be. She told the group they just got back from Chicago last night, that it had been a long day, but they had fun. She said for the girls Goalball game, they won one game, lost one game and tied one game. She said the boy's one goalball game the won with a score of 10-1. Dr. Goodfellow asked the group if they had any question for Lindsay to which there was no response. He thanked Lindsay for her update. Superintendent Preston told the group that they always have to get approval for fundraiser from Springfield first, they make sure the fundraiser meets ethical standards and guidelines. Superintendent instructed the secretary to move the Student Council report to the first spot on the agenda under reports so they could give their report first.
Superintendent Preston told that she was an ex-officio trustee for the American Printing House for the Blind, because ISVI receives quota funds. She told the group if they were interested in the history of quota funding they could look it up online. She said there was a federal law that established the APH and the funds for the operation of APH and provides funding for every student who is blind or visually impaired. They make products for the blind. She said the conference is very full with 12 hour days, then you go to this room and network and you are still talking shop. Going to the conference does fulfill my responsibilities for trustee. She said they were back to back conferences, APH and COSB. At the COSB meeting she said there were 35 or so people in attendance, a lot of superintendents from state schools. She said parents with children who are visually impaired were represented and Lighthouse and Hadley was there. She said their COSB Executive Director went to Washington to advocate what should be basic rights of blind and deaf students. She summarized focus session of the conference. Discussion about networking to fill Superintendent and O & M vacancies were had. She said it was a very good meeting. Superintendent Preston told the group that Kris Smith wanted to be here but she was appointed to head the Department of Aging and she has been having to spend three full days a week in that position while still doing an amazing job supporting me. The appointment should only last until the end of October, and hopefully that is the case.
Education Principal Aimee Veith gave her report. She said at Opening Doors there were approximately 25 families that had not been touched before, meaning they were not from ISVI and not in town that we have had before. She said it was very busy. She said Goalball was underway. She said we just had a home meet. She said the girls on the team played very well and represented their school well. There was a student vs staff game coming up and if you have never seen one you should as they are quite fun. Superintendent Preston said there was only one rule during these games, you can't talk or cheer during the game. Education Principal Veith described goalball as playing soccer on your side with a football helmet. New council member Mark Peters, an alumnus of ISVI said he was not able to play contact sports when he went to school but said the games with staff were fun to watch. Superintendent Preston said the staff games are sponsored by AFSCME. Education Principal Veith said the student council would be doing a walk a thon to raise money for prom and they were planning other events to support activities. There was discussion on various types of fundraisers, particularly a poverty simulator meal was discussed. Education Principal Veith told the group about the new reading program which she described as excellent. The goal is to increase reading by 300%. She said they are encouraging everyone to increase their reading by 25 minutes a day. She said a few were not excited about it but they were coming around. She said the program is sponsored by the PTO and some of the awards being offered are Kindle gift cards, Apple gift cards, Barnes and Noble gift cards and others. Council member Peters asked if it was required now to which Education Principal Veith said "yes". Dr. Goodfellow described it as "not learning to read but reading to learn".
Records and Admissions Marsha Schoth gave her report stating she had recently updated her intake report, that there are eleven new students, and nine students on tracking record with three almost completed and she mailed out an application today. She said the Angel Tree party will be held December 8th at ISVI this year and ISD will attend. She said each school takes turn from year to year hosting the party. She said she recently attended a two day vision conference in Springfield. Mayor Andy Ezard, ex-officio council member asked for the number of students enrolled at ISVI and ISD. Superintendent Preston said we serve at least 300 kids here at ISVI in some capacity. On campus there are approximately 72 students and there are approximately 65 babies for a total of 135 kids receiving services every day. With our outreach programs we serve 300. Mayor Ezard asked about ISD. Superintendent Preston said she did not know the number but if he would send her an email she would get that information. When someone asks about how many kids you have there are also three one week summer camps where we serve an additional 48 students that are not our kids. For the parent-infant program most years we have at least 25-35 families. They come here to learn skills to help guide development of their children. Then there is professional development we provide for service providers such as hearing and vision screening. She said we have babies north of Peoria, as far south as Collinsville, east to west borders of our state and we only have two teachers serving those babies. One is on contract. She said it is a real disservice to ISVI and the State of Illinois to say we only count the students on campus and only serve 72 kids. Education Principal Veith said we get phone calls all the time about services for visually impaired people and even phone calls from out of state. She said just last week she probably had 10-12 calls that googled looking for services and then called us.
Vocational Principal Miller told the group he had ten potential students under evaluation at the start of the year. He said two are now enrolled, the other eight are still in the evaluation process. He said they are doing a lot of IEPs. Principal Miller told the group about the student job program, which has been revamped. He said that program has been revamped. He said students must be 16 years old, they have to fill out an application, make a resume and go through an interview. He said some students with no employment background have to volunteer for a while and it counts as employment. It gets them started. They might work on campus, in the dining hall or around campus. Students have to go through process of being evaluated to work on or off campus and during that time they are evaluated on three levels. Principal Miller said at last count there 23 students in the job program, an increase from last year. He said they continue to look for more opportunity for the kids on and off campus. Christie Best has been attending Chamber of Commerce and Lion's meetings, looking for more opportunities for our kids. He said I believe they are going in the right direction. He said kids are getting experience in what they have to do in looking for a job. He said they are getting skilled employment classes, a good place for support, they can work on their resumes and have a chance to put information together before they have to go turn something in. Principal Miller said it touches on the TLC program. He explained they do chores and earn money, not real money but money to pay bills. He said they get regular bills like electricity, life like living expenses that they pay with this money they earn. He said sometimes they throw in a bill they weren't expecting, med and transportation. If there is anything left over they can buy snacks or something they need for their dorm. They have to write checks and they have to keep track of their funds. He said it's a real life opportunity. One of the things they would like to figure out how to make this work similar to using a debit card. Principal Miller said with grants his process was to align the grant with items being asked for from teachers. He said they turn in their order; he goes through the grants to make sure it supports the items being ordered. He said for CTE they try to get purchases turned in September so we can get items for teachers and kids within the year. Principal Miller said they recently had a fall advisory meeting with the teachers in CTE program where they discussed goals relating to their jobs. They have them in the spring and fall and he invited Advisory Council members to attend. He said one of the topics being discussed is how we are trying to align to the common core standard. He talked about AdvancEd, which he said it is school improvement. He said one of things they could improve on is data collection. In relation to assessments they spent the summer looking at about what we have and how are we using to help our students. Advisory Council member Landa-Vialand said she could help with assessments. She said she had a lot of experience with assessments in Texas, working with over 300 students a year. She said she was in charge of making sure all assessment got done for IEP's. She said there were a lot of tools available through APH. Superintendent Preston told Principal Miller they would need to talk later, that she had some ideas, and she thanked Advisory Council Member Landa-Vialand for her offer on assessments. She said talked about the money in grants being spent earlier this year than other years and she was happy about that. She said because of the budget some grant money was not released until mid-September. She told the group about PERA, an ISBE required evaluation of teachers. She said they have a joint committee consisting of a team of teachers meeting informally. She said it was an amazing team of teachers, three in all. The joint committee is required to have equal representation; they meet quarterly and they have had a good response. She said these assessments are tied to student growth among other things. She said these are required.
Principal Veith told the council about the new Warrior Store put into place largely by Becky Gwaltney. She said kids earn warrior bucks and can in turn spend them in the Warrior Store that is stocked with treasures from staff and others. She said the store was accessible to all students.
Superintendent Preston told the group about their new mentoring program for new teachers. She said we have a few new teachers and for this reason we have started our mentoring program. She said the mentoring program is staffed by volunteer mentors. She said we meet before school at 7:00 a.m. and we provide a little breakfast. Principal Miller said it was a very helpful program. He said you can't imagine what it takes to run this place. He said it takes time to even know what exists so this helps with that.
Superintendent Preston said the Parent Association wreath sale is underway. She said the wreaths were of a very high quality and is a great gift because you can have the greenery sent straight to the recipient of your choice. She told the council the Parent Association has designed some new spirit wear and the Parent Association was taking orders right now. The new spirit wear is designed with glittery letters. They are still planning the quarter auction. Principal Veith said they need to do it in early February. She said some employees were very skilled with this and how to get more people involved. Principal Miller said we need to find ways for parents to call in and get more involved in the meetings for the Parent Association. Council Member Peters asked how often they met to which Principal Veith said every other month. The discussion then turned to the need for a parent to join the Advisory Council. Dr. Goodfellow said we have Ann Panthen and we need another parent. He said it would probably be better to have someone more local who could attend the quarterly meetings. Superintendent Preston suggested checking with Lindsay Bates parents or Katie and Nick Tomich. Dr. Goodfellow asked if someone could reach out to them. He said Olaya would get us email for Amy Lund. Dr. Goodfellow talked about the value of ISVI to doctors who could come to ISVI during the low vision clinics who may never see a blind child and gain that experience here. He said they know the value of ISVI. Dr. Goodfellow gave each committee member an opportunity to say something about their organization relevant to the Advisory Council.
Beginning with Mayor Ezard he said one of the hot topics for Jacksonville right now is the dog park, he said it was a big contest and Jacksonville won a $100,000 to be used toward the dog park. He said it would likely be used up in engineering and other fees so they will have to raise more money at some point. He said we have a great pet community. He said the park would be located on the south east part of town by Nichols Park. Jacksonville just recently broke ground on a new water treatment plant. Their current water treatment plant was a hundred years old and after the floods of 2011 EPA told them they had to do something. He said obtaining a grant was hard but it saved a lot of money and the project should be completed in two years. Currently the city is talking about putting a school resource officer at Turner Jr. High. Principal Miller said they had a resource officer at the high school when he worked there and it was a wonderful thing. He said the Turner Jr. High will benefit from that. Mayor Ezard said Jacksonville was looking into a central dispatch service. He said it would provide better service for everyone.
John Thein told the group that his organization, Lion's Club, wanted to do something at the school for the next low vision clinic in honor of Dr. Donald Taylor's 40 years of service. He said it has been approved and would be done at no cost to the school. Low vision clinic is March 7th and 8th, 2016. Dr. Goodfellow said this would be a great opportunity for people to come to ISVI and celebrate.
Mark Peters said he had nothing to add. Amy Richards said she was struggling to get funding for visually impaired children with behavioral and emotional problems. Superintendent Preston explained that ISRC is a statewide community of resources that provide resources and suggestions for intervention and they work directly with families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing who also have behavior and emotional issues. Some kids may be doing okay at school but not at home, ISRC goes to the home and works with the family. They have team meetings and work on different topics. Much discussion was had by Amy Richards and her quest to get the needed funding for visually impaired children with behavior and emotional issues.
Jesse Rogers told the group he was impressed with the activities ISVI has and students getting life "101". He said recently worked with a fellow 40 years old who could not do a checkbook. He told the group December 9th was their annual vendor Christmas party sponsored by the Illinois Association of Blind Merchants and Blind Vendors. He invited the students to go for dinner. Jesse this year he and his wife Sharon were speakers and the entertainment would be provided by a real life Elvis impersonator. He invited students to their meetings to see if Blind Vendors would be something of interest to them. He said the average age of members in their group is 60 and they need new blood. He said he has had two grandchildren attend summer camps at ISVI and told the group how it had helped them. He told the group about a reception in honor of John Gordon who had a done a lot of legislative things for their group and for kids. It will be held in Naperville November 1 at 10:30. Superintendent Preston thanked Blind Vendors for the Christmas party they sponsor and said it was very much appreciated. Councilman Rogers talked about changes that had taken place with Blind Vendors over the last ten years. He said they gone from vending to concessions. This year he said they had two concession stands at the State Fair. He said they are competing in the real world.
Councilwoman Olaya Landa-Vialand said ISU has students currently living on campus. Some are teaching in itinerant placement. One of the things we talked about trying to get student teachers down here extended so teachers can live here and student teach. We have six right now and they will graduate in May. She said they are writing a grant to get more students. She said their Dinner in the Dark benefit will be held March 19 in Normal. She said it was their main fundraiser for Braille Birds. She said if you need with any volunteering to let her know.
At that time there was a motion to adjourn the meeting by Mark Peters, seconded by Amy Richards. Motion carried. Next meeting is January 22, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.