October 27, 2017
The October 27th, 2017 Advisory Council meeting was called to order by Chairperson Olaya Landa-Vialand at approximately 10:03 a.m. In attendance in person were Olaya Landa-Vialand, Chairperson; Mark Peters; John Thien; Sue Brosmith, Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard; Education Principal Aimee Veith; Director of Residential Services Malinda Pollard. Superintendent Preston and Jess Rogers were in attendance via conference call. After roll call was taken the ISVI Student Council President Kaitlyn Ryan was introduced.
First agenda item was approval of July meeting notes. Education Principal Aimee Veith said that although she did not attend July's meeting she believed there were two errors: 1) 1st page, 4th paragraph, 3rd line, ACRE should actually be ICRE and 2) 3rd page, 4th paragraph, 3rd line, 2nd sentence in that line should read "She said she talked to Business Enterprise Program". Corrections were made. A motion was made by Mayor Andy Ezard and seconded by Jess Rogers to accept the minutes of the last meeting. Motion carried.
A motion by Mayor Andy Ezard and seconded by Jess Rogers to approve the agenda carried. There were no conflicts of interest.
Moving on to Reports the Council heard a Student/Staff Presentation from the ISVI Choir. The Choir gave a very impressive rendition of their upcoming Jukebox Classic. The theme of this year's Jukebox Classic is "Don't Stop Believing". Mrs. Kerhlikar told the group they always try to pick themes that are supportive. She said students will be introducing the songs from their favorite rock bands. She said she had the students dress in rock concert t-shirts or school t-shirts and blue jeans like they would if they were attending a rock concert. The students sang several songs much to the delight of the Advisory Council.
The next agenda item, a report from the Student Council, was given by Student Council President Kaitlyn Ryan. She said their Student Council recently held an election. The following members were elected: Kaitlyn Ryan, President; Mikayla Wiseman, Vice President; Tori Lynch, Secretary and Mitch McCracken, Treasurer. She said their group discussed current issues they wanted to go over this year with the administration. She said one issue, getting Wi-Fi in the dorms. She said that would allow for students doing more research on the phones or when they are locked out of their computers. They would be able to email teachers from their personal emails if necessary, where currently they cannot if they are locked out of their computers. The next issue of concern for the Student Council was the lack of independence at ISVI. She said ISVI has become stricter particularly in the dorms. She said they have talked with Ms. Frank and she is starting to give out Casey's passes and working toward students being able to walk downtown with passes. She said they want to work with the Administration about the rules where problems lie and make ISVI a better place to be. She told the group the Student Council recently went on a leadership workshop and they learned some great skills. She said the interaction with students from other schools was great and they made new friends. She said it also allowed them to talk to other student councils from other schools about their issues and she felt it gave them a better idea how to address their issues that they feel will help everyone reach a better solution. Lastly, she said the student council's annual walk-a-thon for high school and 5th year students was coming up. There will be forms available on a travel weekend to take home and to parents, families and community to donate money. She said the money raised will go toward the student council and a lot of it will be spent on prom. She said whoever raises the most money will get free prom pictures. She said she hoped that would make everyone more competitive. Chairman Olaya asked about the structure in the dorm the student council was concerned about. Student Council President Ryan said they can only stay in the dorm; they are not allowed to just walk to Casey's without staff going with them. Director of Residential Services Pollard asked why they think staff is being stricter. SC President Ryan said part of it is when you have a group of boys and girls you have to have staff with you or you have to check in with the dorm every 15 minutes to say where we are on the route, we have to keep them abreast of where we are in the trip. When asked by Education Principal Veith if the Council had approached the Administration yet about their concerns, she answered no. Education Principal Veith told SC President Ryan that that would be a good place to start to which SC President Ryan agreed.
Moving on down the agenda Superintendent Preston touched on the reports beginning with the Business Office. She said Jen Sample transferred to another agency and we now have Tammy Miner. She said we completed the end of the fiscal year with property control inventory. She said there are areas we can improve on and we are working on that. In Dietary, she said this summer was the three year cycle with DHS schools to be audited for our schools' lunch and breakfast program. ISD had an onsite audit this time like we did three years ago. She said there was a new component to the audit this year that we never did before, which involved the fiscal part of the lunch program. She said we do a count as people go through the lunch line; with that count we get reimbursed. She said the money goes to DHS into a line item, and that part was audited. She said we learned a lot and a lot came from it. We learned we were not charging enough for staff lunches, so we had to increase that. She said staff can still eat but it's quite an increase. Otherwise, it was a good audit. Superintendent Preston told the group we hired another permanent teacher, Tonia Holloway. In the Health Center the dental clinic went very well. In Personnel she told the group we have a new vacancy for RSS (Residential Service Supervisor). She said the current one had transferred but we now have Bridget Beckman who promoted up to RSS. She talked about ISVI's 5th year of continuing improvement cycle for AdvancED. She said this year is our external review for our accreditation. She said educators are engaged year round, we meet during faculty meetings and school improvement days every year. We feel like we are sitting in a good spot. She told the group surveys are going out and it is appreciated for those who fill them out. She said several surveys have been filled and they feel they are in a very good place. In the Engineer Department there is no report. She said we have a new Chief Engineer, taking Nick Preston's place who recently retired. His name is Rich Gebhardt. She said we do have a new generator ordered so if we lose power on campus the new generator will supply power to the whole campus. Right now, there is a temporary generator in place. She said the target date for the new generator to be installed is sometime this spring. The next project is at the main building front and back steps and the railing. She said we have been asking for several years to get these issues fixed and it looks like there may be some movement on these issues but there is no deadline. She said she was pleased with what she is hearing. Chairman Olaya asked if we needed to have a campaign of some sort to help the process along, saying it is a health, life and safety issue. Superintendent Preston said it was her understanding it is in the process. We appreciate that though. We must keep in mind it's not just making repairs and that's it. First, we have to find another accessible entrance to the building before we can close anything off for repair. Director of Residential Services Pollard asked if it was decided where it would go. Superintendent Preston said that would be up to the contractor. She said she hoped to have more information at the next meeting. Chairman Olaya asked if that was why the front door was locked to which Superintendent Preston said no, it was for security. She said she was going to be straight up; the concrete is bad but it's not why the front door is locked.
Education Principal Veith told the group the students are doing very well in goalball. Recently they were undefeated against SASSED. November 4th is conference goal ball games in St. Louis, and we are hoping for a trophy. Chairman Olaya asked that she be sent goalball information. Education Principal Veith said the Athletics Department will host a JV wrestling tournament and that department held a fundraiser September 16th for the Sports Boosters. She said AR scores are declining. She cited a different population of students than last year as a possible reason for the decline. They are changing 10th hour activities to include three reading activities this quarter. She said they are trying to diagnose the reason why reading isn't where they want it. She said the Northern Conference of their Outreach Program is looking for a place to have their conference. The theme for next year's Opening Doors is "Traveling in Time" and will carry over into Mr. Miller's Summer Camps. She told the group Illinois is no longer ACT, now we are SAT. A discussion about why ISVI is not a typical testing site was had. Students at ISVI require a lot more space per student, desk must be arranged a certain way. Many students have to be close to electrical outlets for assistive technology and braillers. We have to file an exception just to be able to have desks arranged a certain way. She said with ACT we need an additional day to do the test or to do it on a different day. That will let us be a testing site nationwide, anyone can come. She said so far SAT is not accommodating us, but we are working on that.
Superintendent Preston told the group the Vocational Department is busy with IEP's. October is always a busy month. She said we had nine students being evaluated and six became full time students. She CTE Advisory meets in the spring and fall. It is required for the Career and Technology Education program. They go over goals for the year. She said they currently have 17 students employed through that program. She said we are starting to make purchases with CTEI grants.
Education Principal Veith told the group the Parent Association had not yet met this year but were hoping to have a meeting in November. The ISVI Athletic Booster Club met in August and October. Leslie Lynch has submitted a report. She said the group has an active Facebook page that is updated in real time during sporting events. She said money has been raised by fundraisers at an Applebee's Flapjack event and a Pack the House event at Leo's Pizza. That money is used to help purchase equipment, uniforms and travel expenses to attend out of state meets. It's a new organization with great support. They also raise school spirit by selling sports shirts for each season for staff and students to wear on the day of events.
Chairman Olaya said the first item of new business for discussion was the issue of a Professional Library for Teachers. She said they are trying to get ISU students using them when planning lessons and activities. There was a great deal of discussion concerning the usefulness of the library and the amount of time that could be saved with these libraries. Superintendent Preston told the group that before the internet ISVI subscribed to several professional journals. Most of them are online now so print copies are not necessary. She said with textbooks we buy several and keep sets in the library. There was a discussion about using ISU's library. Chairman Ola was surprised to learn the two schools did not participate in that partnership. The idea of the research library is for new ideas educators are trying in the classroom.
The next item of new business was Wi-Fi access. Chairman Olaya said Student Council President Kaitlyn Ryan had already bought this issue up. Superintendent Preston said there are a lot of barriers and that we actually came close once to getting Wi-Fi. Getting approval from CMS' Innovative Technology Department is one barrier. There is always a concern on a state level of being hacked. Another barrier is connectivity. We looked into cable but that was very expensive and not user friendly. It was cost prohibitive. The next thing are T-1 lines, we now have 4T1 lines. She said we have quite a bit of money in the E-Rate fund that we can afford Wi-Fi for the main building and maybe another building. E-Rate is a reimbursement of money on phone bills. She said we got really close to Wi-Fi once and couldn't get the money released. She said the cost was over $10,000 and getting that kind of money is another process. She said they didn't look at it last year because she was pretty tied up between both schools and E-Rate rules have changed. But she said it was something she has never given up on and will try again. The last couple of years with no budget was also an issue. She said we will start looking into it again. Mayor Ezard asked what if you had a company who could make the building accessible for the kids so you didn't have to go through the state? He said they have Wi-Fi in their building and it's very secure. He said he thought things at the state level had changed. Chairman Olaya suggested maybe looking into grants outside of the state. Superintendent Preston said she was open to any suggestions. Councilwoman Sue Brosmith asked if ISD had Wi-Fi, Education Principal Veith answered that they do in the school and she thought they may have it for certain hours in the dorm.
The third item of new business is advocacy for the Macy Act. Chairman Olaya explained that they have been trying to get this Act passed for four or five years. It involves children who are deaf and blind and how they are identified (separating deaf/visually impaired children from children with multiple disabilities) and how that relates to funding for teachers for children who are deaf and/or visually impaired. She said getting more parents of deaf/visually impaired children and children with these disabilities to advocate for Macy's Act was needed. She said maybe parents through Opening Doors would be good, or PTA meetings. She said legislatures do not want to hear from someone like her who is not the parent of a child with these disabilities. She said APH was trying to increase funding from $250 per student to $10,000. She said $250 per student now barely covers the braille paper.
She also said ISU LVB program are now preparing a graduate level visually impaired teacher's certification program. She said they are working with ISBE with the language and requirements for this program. They discussed another funding source for educators who would like to get certification for visually impaired teaching, that if they promise to stay here and teach for a couple of years, their certification would be funded. She talked about the program between ISU and ISVI hosting student teachers. Superintendent Preston said ISVI hosts student teacher and in turn ISU provides tuition waivers to our educators for classes at ISU. She said we still need DTV's, but that goes back to the count.
Chairman Olaya said El Vista runs out the summer of 2019 and they are looking at ways to extend it. She said this program offers credentialing, but it requires a Master's.
Director of Residential Services Malinda Pollard told the group we have two new RCW's hired, Brandon Hungerford and Tammy Chambers. She said staff are working on the upcoming holiday party. The Angel Tree party is December 5th and the Blind Vendor's Party is December 13th. There was some discussion about where the date for the Blind Vendor's Party came from. Superintendent Preston said she felt Donnie has been good to get in touch with us early on and we hope to have a festive event the kids will enjoy. Councilman Rogers said he would like to go back to the way holiday parties they sponsored did in the past but were having difficulty getting it done. Superintendent Preston said the kids really seem to enjoy the parties of pizza and gifts.
Councilman John Thien said the latest Low Vision Clinic served 25 people this past fall. He said 28 signed up. He said the numbers were a little low and suggested maybe looking at some sort of outreach program. Superintendent Preston pointed out that you must be referred by a teacher so maybe we need to look more at reaching out to them. Some discussion as to how to reach out was had. Facebook seem to be the most logical way of reaching out to these educators. The group also discussed maybe changing the times of the clinic to accommodate more working parents by possibly providing evening appointments or a weekend. Superintendent Preston said she was not sure anyone had ever been turned away but if we could see more people it would be worth discussing. Councilman Thien said he got an email from Pat Langdon indicating the school wanted an assistive technology device a Victor Screen Tracker that has GPS that could be used by O&M Instructor Kathy Frank. He said Blind Children's Foundation has a lot of money and this is an agenda item. He said they approved the purchase of two and he was just wondering about it. Education Principal Veith said the technology was due to be released November 5.
Councilman Rogers said the Blind Vendor's was interested in putting some kind of thing together for the summer for kids in a work on the job training. They are trying to get that worked out.
Councilman Peters said the ISVI Alumni did not have an actual report, but they have started meetings again. They are starting to talk about the 2018 Alumni Reunion, and he hoped to have more information at the next meeting.
Education Principal reminded everyone about the AdvancED survey.
A motion to adjourn the meeting was made by Councilman Peters, seconded by Councilwoman Sue Brosmith. The motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 12:17 p.m.