January 26, 2018
The January 26, 2018 Advisory Council meeting was called to order by Chairperson Olaya Landa-Vialand at approximately 10:00 a.m. In attendance in person were Olaya Landa-Vialand, Chairperson; Mark Peters; John Thien; Sue Brosmith, Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard; student representative Tim Green; Student Council President Kaitlyn Ryan and Superintendent Preston. Those attending the meeting via conference calling was council members Jesse Rogers and Arlana Henley. DRS Director Quinetta Wade also participated via conference call
Chairperson Olaya Landa-Vialand called for an introduction of those present. Introductions were made. Roll call was then taken. A motion to approve the minutes was made by Mark Peters and seconded by John Thien. A vote with all in approval was taken.
A motion to approve the agenda was made by John Thien, seconded by Mark Peters and passed with all in approval. There were no conflicts of interest.
Student Representative Tim Green was first to address the council. Tim told the group he has been with ISVI 3 1/2 years. He told the group his living in the Transitional Living Center and the college program have been a big help to him and helped him to better himself. He said when he moved into TLC this past fall the staff helped him get more organized with cleaning his apartment, doing laundry and doing his schoolwork. He said TLC is not just a small room, he has an apartment. He said with his work program he has had the opportunity to help with track, swimming and goal ball which gave him experience working with other people and now he works at Braille Dots here at ISVI. Superintendent Preston asked Tim if he could tell the group about what you do. Tim said they do dietary menus for school, we print braille for the living area, and we get off campus jobs, just recently making braille labels for an outside person. He said they do embossing for Ms. Kerhlikar, the music teacher. Just this past week he said they had to print the play script for each individual person in different fonts. He said it took a lot of time. Superintendent Preston told the group that Tim gets paid minimum wage for his work. Vocational Principal David Miller pointed out that Tim is learning a lot of basic skills like answering the phones and putting things in the computer. He said these are skills he will take with him when he leaves us and goes into a job. Superintendent Preston told the group Tim does very well. She said you are taking orders, this is a school based enterprise, even a teacher asking to take an order you have to give an estimate of how much you think materials will cost and how long you think a job will take, how many large print or braille and a lot of other issues. She said there is a lot to it and not a lot of kids get asked to work in the Braille Dots program. Chairperson Olaya Landa-Vialand told Tim that he was doing a fantastic job of doing this while learning. Vocational Principal Miller said that Tim also performs duties in a managerial role in the Braille Dots program, so he gets experience that way too. He also pointed out that students at ISVI have the opportunity of attending Lincoln Land Community College and getting their basic college courses out of the way and then transferring to four year university. He said Tim will have those out of the way and when he transitions from here, he will have support but be on his own. He said we have students taking courses and some that we find out are not quite ready. Better to find that out here so we can work with them. Vocational Principal Miller said Tim was asked to do this presentation, he is the kind of person we want to put out there and say this is what you can do if you have the desire. Tim has done a real good job; he is the kind of person you go to that will get it done. He said this program will help build a person to be independent and successful in their lives. Chairperson Olaya Landa-Vialand said that is one of the things as a TVI is to remember the students need to learn to advocate for themselves. She said it's hard, you see a student needs something and you want to help them.
Student Council President Kaitlyn Ryan gave a presentation and that is attached to these notes and made a part of the record. Superintendent Preston thanked her for her report, and she said she would like to say she agreed with the success of the meeting, she felt it was a productive meeting. She said the students ran a very professional meeting following Roberts Rule of Order, she said she was extremely impressed. Superintendent Preston explained to the group how the closing of Casey's on West College was a big loss for our students. The students while developing O&M skills are given permission after a time to walk independently or in groups to Casey's as their skills progress. Casey's is the only retail type establishment within walking distance of ISVI and therefore, a huge loss for our students. She said that being told you can walk up to the square and back, that is a big deal, but Casey's was a place you could go to independently where you could get a soda. She said she just wanted everyone to know the importance of Casey's to the student's and why it is on the agenda.
There was some discussion about the kids' complaint about Ketchup. According to federal dietary guidelines ketchup is high in salt and sugar and therefore limited. The salad bar for instance no longer has shredded cheese. It is full salad bar with healthy items.
The Superintendent's Report was next. Superintendent Preston said she would briefly go through the written reports available for today's meeting. She said they provide an overview of the departments. She said the Business Office was taking orders as usual, otherwise no new news. In Dietary, the Dietary Manager Cindy Daugherty was transferring to a different job, taking Marsha Schoth's position who recently retired. She starts her new job February 1. We are currently looking for a new Dietary Manager. In this case and as in some cases the State Board has certain requirements that are not in line with CMS, their wording may mean something different. We have to figure the wording out. One of the cooks has been TA'd to the Dietary Manager. We don't want this to affect our reimbursements. She told the group Cindy Daugherty had done a nice job here, she applied for a grant through the School Lunch Program and got a new industrial stove and oven and installed and got a new walk-in freezer and it is in the process of being installed. We plan to continue the school garden.
Superintendent Preston told the group that next was Engineer and Maintenance. Yesterday we met with CDB (Capital Development Board) and a lot of different people and we are in very preliminary steps of a project here. We have been requesting for eight or more years here to replace steps and hand railing on the Main Bldg. At this point I cannot tell you any details, we don't know what they will do or when it will start.
Superintendent Preston told the group in Personnel things were better. There are ten vacancies. She said the SSWII had posted and candidates would be invited to interview in February or March. Three educator positions are vacant, and we will attempt to post them. The educator positions are for Information Processing with CTE endorsement, social studies visually impaired endorsement and Independent Living Skills. The Executive I and II have been filled. Cindy Daugherty is the new Exec I and Michelle Clark is the new Exec II, Gail Olson's position. Superintendent Preston explained that a few years ago the position of Executive II, was a shared position between ISVI and ISD. It was decided both schools should each have their own Outreach personnel. Michelle will begin February 1. She worked at ISVI in the past and both Michelle Clark and Cindy Daugherty will attend the upcoming AER conference.
Superintendent Preston told the group the O&M position was posted again. She said they were looking into maybe getting a temporary worker if they can't get a fulltime one.
Superintendent Preston reported that the RSS position had been filled by Barbara Varboncoeur and a new RSS position will post.
Superintendent Preston said the SSWI position they were waiting on a job description. She told the group we have a new nurse, Karin Chumley who started in early January and two new support service workers in dietary. One of the other SSW's in dietary bid on an RCW vacancy.
Superintendent Preston told the group in the Record's Office Mr. Wright had been covering for some of the duties of outgoing Admissions Director, Marsha Schoth. She said the Residential Director has been busy doing in-service training which is why Director of Residential Services Malinda Pollard was not at today's meeting.
Vocational Principal David Miller told the group we continue to work on preparations for our visit for the accreditation process. Our team has just been working feverishly, we are not far behind the deadline. We appreciate everyone who took the time to do the surveys.
Director Quinetta Wade told the group she did not have a lot to report, but everyone should pay attention to the February 14 budget address for FY19, to keep it on your calendar. She said they continue to reach out across the divisions trying to strengthen partnerships and extend partnerships within Human Services across the state to better serve our customers. Those were the two big things she had to report on.
Chairperson Olaya Landa-Vialand asked if there was something we should be looking for in the budget. Director Wade said no but that it was of interest to most people and just wanted to share.
Superintendent Preston told the group about the school's Professional Development plans and how they align to student growth. She said the educators work well together and when there is a meeting they don't cancel; they get it done. She told the group the first week in January the students did not return to campus because of weather for three days. One of the days was a teacher's institute day and they still had it. Classes were cancelled but the teachers came and had Professional Development. She said she was out sick that day, so all the credit goes to David and Aimee. She said State Board of Ed required testing was coming up and SAT got the bid. She said there were concerns about it being accessible to our students. She said PARCC had flown many of our staff to Texas to be sure their tests were accessible. She said she did understand that SAT was being prepared to be accessible to our students. She said Aimee took charge and got ISVI to be a testing site for ACT and in January we offered the ACT to our students, but they had to pay. She said four students tested. She said she was very pleased with the results. She told the group the ISVI Goalball teams took 1st place this year in the regionals. She said the students received a police escort and they got to ride on the fire truck. She said later they would talk more about tests, Science Assessment, PARCC and SAT. There was some discussion about the SAT and whether it will be offered in anything other than UEB.
Vocational Principal David Miller told the group that Aimee wanted him to pass on news of the last fundraiser spearheaded by PE Teacher Ken Mansell that raised $600.00. They are looking at having 20 teams next year. He said they are looking at another fundraiser at Applebee's. He said it is a fun fundraiser and students work it. He said students wait on tables, pour water, host customers and that sort of thing. They do not cook. He said they made good money from the last one. He said the kids are really into that. He said the Quarter Auction was coming up and that always cost him money. They expect it to be bigger and better than last year's event. Mr. Miller explained how the auction worked. It is scheduled for February 3. Superintendent Preston said the big prize at last year's auction is Cardinal tickets. This year's auction is being held at a bigger location and vendors will be present as well. They donate to the auction. The kids collect the money. She said the Parent Organization is looking at a new design for spirit wear. She said they have been working for C-3 status a long time. It is quite an undertaking to get tax exempt status.
Vocational Principal Miller said he was still doing IEP's. He said one of the things he worked with is coordinating assessments for educators, trying to keep data for three year testing to see growth our students are making. We are starting to see results. He said kids are filling the gap especially in reading, not math so much. Vocational Principal Miller said Dr. Lori is taking on more duties beginning January 18th so students can get the counseling they need while they actively look for a new social worker. Principal Miller told the group there were 15 students employed at ISVI, four of them are off campus employment. He said students undergo an evaluation each week so they can be critiqued, and students also do a self-evaluation. He said the evaluations provide good feedback to our students. He said he was encouraged by what he saw. He said they are always looking for off campus jobs for students, but they are hard to find. The group discussed a possible stigma attached to hiring visually impaired individuals, that if they can't see they can't do the work. Principal Miller said we have to do a better job of educating people. Principal Miller said we have had kids working in hotels folding towels to car detailing to working at Applebee's. He said he likes to start them in on campus jobs, then off campus. He said it's important to get them out in front of the community. Superintendent Preston said she wanted to add that it's sometimes very hard to align IEP's to a job. She told the group how Tim Green's brother wanted to be a diesel mechanic, so he did detailing. She said it gave him job experience. She said Mr. Miller's point is right, it might not be what you want to do but it's a job. Chairman Olaya Landa-Vialand asked if there were any workshops for us to go and do a presentation on what our kids are doing and show them what our kids can do. Is there something like that in this community? Mayor Ezard said he could think of three, that we were always welcome to the council meetings, the Jacksonville Economic Development Corporation, Kiwanis. Chairman Olaya Landa-Vialand asked Mayor Ezard if he could email meeting dates. He told the group the kids could come with him and say what they want to. Vocational Principal Miller said he would be happy to help with that. Vocational Principal Miller went on to report on assessments they were on in TLC that impact IEP's, the Independent Living Skills Assessment. He said it was a scale assessment and they were doing a test run. He said RCW RSS are trained to give assessments, they all come together to talk about what a student can or cannot do. He said they use it to monitor growth to see if a student is showing improvement, remaining stagnant or regressing. He said he was really encouraged by this; it helps them understand how students are performing. Chairman Olaya Landa-Vialand was happy about the program stating our kids are not standard, you have to look beyond the scores to see what they can do. I love that you are doing that. She said I don't want to know what they can't do I want to know what they can do. He said if the assessment is successful, they may expand, maybe beginning with elementary students. Vocational Principal Miller reported on the AdvancED. He said the surveys have gone out and they are going through information now, working on summaries and creating notes, sign the information they have gathered. He said he could not imagine all the information they have to go through. He said it's a real testament to the people working here. He said they continue to update timelines, there would be a few more meetings in February. The teams will work through the days to finalize everything. The accreditation he said is scheduled for March 25 and 26. Superintendent Preston pointed out that we have to be done four weeks prior to March 26th.
Councilman Jesse Rogers commended Vocation Principal Miller for what he is doing saying he had talked to 18 year olds and asked them what do you want to do and their biggest question back to me is I don't know what can I do. He said it seemed like Vocational Principal Miller and his team were making a difference showing them what they can do. He said it may or may not be what they want to do. If they go through three or so job changes like everyone else, they will make their own niche, they will find what they like and be able to support their families. He said blind people think because they can't see what they are wearing it doesn't matter but if they have breakfast on their shirt and are going to a meeting it makes a big difference. Getting your people to observe themselves and being the best they can be they will feel better about themselves, they will see their handicap may be inconvenient, but they can still be independent. He said they always get tired of being dependent on other people, but I tell them sighted people depend on other people every day. Instead of saying I can't do that say show me the way. He said the team was doing a great job. There were no more questions for Mr. Miller.
Superintendent Preston told the group that she was unable to go to the APH conference in Louisville this past October as planned due to family issues. She said she would be expected to go back in May for the ESAC Committee Meeting. She said APH is required to have two committees and she was on the one for services. She said they have a campaign going on to increase quota funds from $250 per student. She said the quota funds pay for braille readers and other items for visually impaired students. One math book for a visually impaired student costs over $1,000, a low vision CCTV is $4,000 so $250 per student does not get you very far. She said the current $250 per student quota fund doesn't get your very far. They are trying to get an increase from $250 to $1,000 per student. She said there is more information on the APH website. She said she would be serving on this committee for two more years. The group heard about a parent who was pushing for legislation to require schools to provide IEP information to parents five days in advance. ISVI already does that. Mr. Miller said IEP's are all about a child's deficits and how to address them. He said you really have to feel for the families. Where there have been no rules about parents getting IEPs ahead of meeting they don't know what's in it until they get to the meeting. It's very daunting. Chairman Ola Landa-Vialand suggested we run a campaign to inform parents and contact their legislatures and ask them to support it.
The group heard from Chairman Olaya Landa-Vialand concerning an update on the Illinois State University's Low Vision Program. She said they were working on a program and encouraging graduates to go into the field of visually impaired education, but you have to have certain endorsements. They are hoping to have an online program so those who want to go into that field can take classes. You must have 24 credit hours to get the endorsements. She said they hope to roll it out in the fall. Hopefully that will help more educators get the necessary endorsements for low vision educators. She said she was very excited. Superintendent Preston said there is a severe shortage of teachers of the visually impaired nationwide. They talked about the O&M program that requires you to quit your job and move to the location and the difficulties of putting this program online. This class requires face to face and physical interaction. ISVI is looking for ways for students interested in online classes for O&M to meet in the summer for maybe six weeks on campus or maybe two weeks at a time, trying to find a way to get the necessary face to face time they need. She said they are trying to meet the needs of people. She said nationwide there are only 212 TVI's and 16000 kids with visual impairments. She said they are trying to make it for working individuals who want to expand their careers, trying online classes. She said they are getting a lot of good feedback.
In Old Business the topic of Professional Library for Teachers was first. The group heard an update from Chairman Olaya Landa-Vialand books in the library as a resource for the professional staff. She said she would be more than happy to work with Aimee to get this service going for teachers. She said she would need to know what books they would like to see. Superintendent Preston said they would work on that with Dawn Chambers, the Librarian, we may be able to get that going.
Next on the agenda WI FI. Superintendent Preston told the group they were looking at doing only the main building first for a lot of reasons. She said with an E-Rate project you are required to pay 10% of the cost. She said we may have enough E-Rate funds to cover that 10%. She told the group this is one of those things that is a high priority. We have one IT person who spends a great deal of time with people who get locked out and those kinds of things. She said she was not giving up on the Wi-Fi project.
Chairman Olaya Landa-Vialand asked about the quarter auction. Superintendent Preston told her that was a Parent Organization thing and she could pm Leslie Lynch on that and ask.
New Business: Superintendent Preston told the group we needed to discuss replacement of Angie Green, Tim's mother, who recently passed away. She told the group she was glad she went to the service because she learned so much about Mrs. Green. She said Mrs. Green was visually impaired and she was on the para-Olympic goal ball team years ago. She said we need to be working on a parent to fill the vacancy of Mrs. Green. Superintendent Preston said she would reach out to a parent and talk with Olaya.
Mayor Ezard discussed the closing of Casey's on College Street. He said he knew it was a big loss to this side of town, Jacksonville had four Casey's and two closed. But he said there was more to come on that. He is hopeful an independent would come and reopen the old Casey's. He talked about some improvements on this side of town that would benefit ISVI where the city is building new sidewalks, curbs and gutters. He said the Dunkin Donuts project would probably be completed by early spring.
Sue Brosmith reported on the celebration that morning at Our Savior's School celebrating the opening of their new building. She said the Bishop from Springfield attended the celebration.
Jesse Rogers talked about a mentoring program to get interns for students who live close to them be able to work for the summer in the Blind Vendor's Program. He said new rules have lowered the age limit from 20-21 down to 18. He said the program would allow for students while in school to take some business classes and when go right in the vendor program out of school.
The meeting adjourned at 12:17