April 27, 2018
The April 27, 2018 Advisory Council meeting was called to order by Chairperson Mark Peters at approximately 10:00 a.m. In attendance in person were Mark Peters, Chairperson; John Thien, Secretary; Sue Brosmith, Chairperson; Makayla Wiseman, Student Council Representative; Malinda Pollard, Residential Supervisor; Aimee Veith, Principal; David Miller, Vocational Principal; and Serena Preston, Superintendent. No one attended the meeting via conference call.
Mark Peters called for an introduction of those present. Introductions were made. Roll call was then taken. A motion to approve the minutes was made by Sue Brosmith and seconded by John Thien. A vote with all in approval was taken.
There were no conflicts of interest.
Student Council Representative Makayla Wiseman was the first to address the council. Ms. Wiseman was filling in for Student Council President Kaitlyn Ryan as she was away for a Swimming/Forensics Meet. Ms. Wiseman informed the Advisory Council of Student Council activities for the year. She stated the Student Council recently went to Springfield for the ISAC breakfast and witnessed a bill regarding retirement funds being debated on the House floor. Ms. Wiseman also informed the Advisory Council that the Student Council recently sold 187 candles as part of a fund raiser and made over $1000. One of the student's parents would be driving to pick up the candles which will save the Student Council $100 in shipping costs. The purpose of the fund raiser was to raise funds to buy two "Buddy Benches," one for ISD and one for ISVI. The approximate cost of the Buddy Benches is $800. The purpose of a Buddy Bench is that if any individual is sitting at a Buddy Bench it indicates he or she wants/needs some company. The Student Council also wanted to have enough money left over to fund a community service project. The project they had in mind was to purchase and provide Christmas gifts to children who are spending the Christmas holiday in Passavant Area Hospital. Ms. Wiseman stated the Student Council has discussed fundraising for next year and plan to have a walk-a-thon which is all profit. Other ideas included: a movie night, a lock-in, a donation project, a concession stand at ISVI events, and another candle sale. They are hoping the fundraisers for next year can be approved in May or June of this year. Ms. Wiseman then informed the Advisory Council about the ISVI Prom scheduled for May 5th. This year's theme is "Emoji" and they are using spring colors. The students will be having bacon wrapped pork loin for dinner. Students will be working on some of the decorations for prom on Thursday and Friday nights and then Mrs. French and the dietary staff will finish the last touches on Saturday afternoon. Mr. Dan Thompson will be the DJ for the event. The Student Council will have their final meeting of the year a few days after prom.
The Superintendent's Report was next. Mrs. Preston stated the ISVI five year accreditation went very well and she would review AdvancED's findings at the end of the meeting. Mrs. Preston discussed her trip last week to the American Printing House (APH) in Kentucky for an APH Advisory Council Meeting. Mrs. Preston is an ex-officio trustee on the APH Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC) Advisory Council. Mrs. Preston stated the council heard the APH reports and revised policies and procedures which implemented this past year. APH will be rolling out changes regarding communications (internal and external), quality of products, and accuracy of their Braille texts. APH has addressed concerns over the quality of some of their items and will be improving their internal quality assurance. In regard to improving the accuracy of their Braille texts, APH has developed an automated means to checking their texts for accuracy however, humans will still be used to spot check the texts. The APH Advisory Council was able to take an unscheduled visit to view this automated process. Mrs. Preston stated they learned a lot during this week at APH and they maintained a busy schedule; Sun through Thu and days ran from 07:30 am to 08:30 pm. Mrs. Preston stated the ESAC committee also wrote and submitted the required annual report which includes commendations and recommendations. Mrs. Preston also stated she has one more year on the APH Advisory Council. Mrs. Preston asked if there were any questions before she moved on to which there were none.
Mrs. Preston also relayed to the Advisory Council that she had recently participated in two training seminars. The first seminar was a legislative update which included information regarding the Illinois budget. Mrs. Preston asked the Advisory Council members if they knew how many state Senate and House bills were submitted for this session. So far, 9447 bills have been submitted for this legislative session. There are currently bills which have been introduced to address teacher & sub shortages. Another update is in regards the book covering school laws. The current book is one volume. To give you an idea of the number of new school laws this book is to be updated to reflect new laws and will now be two volumes. The second seminar Mrs. Preston participated in was a workshop where participants reviewed the 1st and 4th amendment rights of students. Another topic discussed was whether Illinois students were allowed to take medical marijuana. Except for one student within the state of Illinois, Illinois students are not allowed to take medical marijuana. Senate Bill 100 was also reviewed during this seminar and statewide, school suspensions have reduced in numbers. Even though the number of suspensions has reduced, the inequalities of those receiving suspensions are still apparent. School walkouts were briefly discussed. Another legal item was reiterated, parents do not have the right to bar you from speaking to a student without them present. There are a couple new laws which schools are struggling with. Senate Bill 100 aims to avoid out-of-school suspensions and suggests an increase in the amount and quality of communication (restorative justice). Mrs. Preston stated she will be discussing this item later with Ms. Veith and Mr. Miller and ISVI will have professional development sessions for the teachers.
The next item Mrs. Preston discussed was the ISVI budget. Mrs. Preston stated the budget is okay for now, but we have had some high cost maintenance issues (elevator in TLC, electrical repairs, etc.). The replacement generator is expected to be 100% in place by the end of this summer. In regard to the stairs/ramp at the west end of the main building, the replacement process is moving along however there will be many steps to the process to replace them.
Mrs. Preston then discussed Personnel items. There is currently a vacancy in dietary which has been posted and two positions in education which have been posted. On a positive note, ISVI has recently been able to post some vacancies prior to them being open; a pro-active approach to filling vacancies in a timely manner. For example, Mr. Miller's position has been posted and ISVI will be able to fill this vacancy prior to Mr. Miller's departure. Mr. Miller's replacement will be able to shadow Mr. Miller prior to his departure. Interviews for Mr. Miller's position will begin in the next few weeks. The Assistant Superintendent position was posted, and we have applicants. The School Social Worker position was posted, and applicants were interviewed. The position was offered to one applicant however this person declined the position. Mrs. Preston opened this topic for questions which someone asked about a school psychologist. Mrs. Preston stated the school currently has a contractual psychologist. Another question was asked about O&M vacancies. Mrs. Preston stated one O&M vacancy was filled last year by Ms. Kathy Frank and the other O&M position has previously been posted but did not result in qualified applicants.
The next item was an update from Residential. Ms. Malinda Pollard stated residential was getting ready for Prom and After Prom. She also stated they were getting ready to do bids for summer program positions and work on end of school awards.
Ms. Cindy Daugherty then provided the Advisory Council with an update for ISVI intake. Ms. Marsha Schoth retired and Ms. Cindy Daugherty replaced her effective February 1st of this year. Ms. Daugherty stated she has been busy and has provided eight tours for prospective students since beginning in February. She has promoted ISVI with numerous vision teachers throughout the state and fielded a lot of phone calls in regard to what ISVI has to offer. Ms. Daugherty stated she likes what she is doing and is currently working on taking a lot of pictures to use for school promotions. After Ms. Daugherty's update the floor was opened for questions. Mr. Mark Peters asked if we have had any recent student evaluations. Mr. David Miller stated we have not had a student evaluation since Christmas time frame. Mrs. Preston asked about upcoming conferences. Ms. Daugherty stated she will be speaking at ROE 1 in June and then a Special Education conference at the end of July.
The next update was for the Education Department and was provided by Ms. Aimee Veith. Ms. Veith stated the Education Department has been very busy with AdvancED accreditation, PERA evaluations, and state testing. The last state test was keyed in and submitted last night. The ISVI swim & forensics teams are in Ohio for the NCASB Conference. The teams are slated to do well and bring home some awards, personal records, and school records. ISVI will be hosting the Spring Sports Banquet on May 2nd, at 6:00 pm for all spring sports. The Education Department is preparing for graduation on May 25th. We will have ten graduates this year. Nine of those have chosen to walk with us and one has elected to walk with his home school's graduation. The graduation speaker for this year is Ms. Jane Breen. The senior class will host an essay contest next week to determine which member will speak on their behalf. On May 18th, the senior class will depart for their senior trip. The students will attend a dinner at Medieval Times theatre in Schaumberg, IL. They will also visit an arcade museum and a bowling alley. The senior class is very excited about their upcoming trip! Prom this year has an Emoji theme. The Student Council is working hard on decorations for this event. ISVI hosted the Northern Illinois Vision (NIV) Conference last weekend in Lisle, IL as SASED; previous NIV conferences were held in Rockford, IL. There were 53 participants representing 36 families. The attendees provided positive feedback and based on this feedback; the new location seemed to be the reason for the increase in attendance. The committee will keep this venue for a few years and hope attendance remains high. ISVI will be hosting the Opening Doors program June 4th-6th. The Opening Doors program has accepted 27 families but not all those families will stay on campus this year. The program normally runs from a Tuesday through the following Thursday however we adjusted the program based on feedback from previous attendees. This year's program will begin on a Monday and conclude on a Wednesday. The families felt this would allow for more two parent families to both attend. Ms. Veith stated we have speakers schedule on low vision, O&M, CVI, social skills, ECC, and more. Ms. Veith then asked if there were any questions. Ms. Sue Brosmith asked what time graduation is. Ms. Veith stated graduation is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Mrs. Preston then stated there will be no meal or cake following this year's graduation; in previous years food and/or cake was offered to families of those who graduated. Ms. Brosmith then asked if the Education Department had anyone who would be retiring. Ms. Veith stated Ms. Cindy Miller and Ms. Gina Carr have announced their intentions to retire at the end of the school year.
The next item addressed was concerning the Low Vision Clinic. Ms. Veith provided the Advisory Council with this update and stated there were 35 families scheduled to attend and of those 33 families showed. Based on numerous peoples' observations, the low vision clinic was a very complete and efficient process. The school was pleased with the support for the local Lions Club organizations. The low vision clinic was able to assist students from all over the state.
The next update was for the Vocational Education Department and was provided by Mr. David Miller. Mr. Miller announced that Ms. Barb Strang would be retiring at the end of the year. Mr. Miller retouched on student evaluations and that none had been completed since Christmas time frame. He also applauded Ms. Cindy Daugherty for having 6-11 potential students. Mr. Miller stated it was almost the end of the IEP year. Another item discussed was the potential closing of Pathway and they have a couple of students with visual impairments and we would try and support them any way we can. Mr. Miller then provided an update regarding the employability program and the process of student evaluations. They wanted to institute a Warrior Bucks bonus for students achieving the top level. This would be like a real world scenario where an employee receives a bonus based on work performance. The employers who have taken on ISVI students are very pleased and are giving positive feedback. The work program is in the process of finding more off-campus opportunities for ISVI students. They have reached out to potential employers with the hopes of students being able to begin working in the fall. Regarding CTEI grant, orders have been placed. Mr. Tom Vredenburgh has numerous ideas for utilizing a 3-D printer in the event we are able to secure one for ISVI; great potential for summer camp. For the most part PERA reviews and 201's has been completed. Mr. Miller then discussed Career Day which was held on March 2nd. He stated the former ISVI students were the most effective. Our students were able to learn about potential jobs and the requirements for these jobs. All the speakers at this year's career day were visually impaired. Mrs. Preston commended Mr. Miller and the Career Day Committee for their work and providing something so meaningful for our students and everyone involved. Mr. Miller stated they were pursuing other options for next year's Career Day to include the potential of it being held at Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) in Springfield. Mr. Miller then provided the Advisory Council with an update regarding summer camp. Summer camp will run June 10th-16th and they have had a lot (30) of requests for packets/applications but only a handful of applications have been returned. Usually 30-36 kids attend summer camp. This year's theme is "A Journey Through Time" and they have some fun evening activities scheduled for the kids. Another upcoming even is the ISVI Art Show which is scheduled for May 7th. At this point Mrs. Preston informed Mr. Miller, the YMCA daycare is in need of workers and would be a possible contact for the work study program. Mr. Miller then asked if there were any questions to which there were not.
The Parent Association was next. Ms. Veith stated the most recent Parent Association meeting discussed fundraising for next year, 501.3c status update, and a new t-shirt design. Ms. Veith informed the Advisory Council of an upcoming fundraising event for the Athletic Boosters. On May 7th, Marco's Pizza will be hosting a "Pack the House" event to benefit the ISVI Athletic Boosters. Marco's is also a possible new location for student work program placement. There will be another Applebee's event in the fall, and they will be serving pancakes. Applebee's likes having our students work at these events and have subsequently hired two of our students for employment. The Athletic Boosters is looking at purchasing lighter weight, athletic warm up suits for the ISVI Athletic Teams. They have also set money back for athletic travel and other long term projects. The Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) has purchased locks for use on escape rooms for summer camp. The theme for the escape rooms will be "Unlock Your Education." CRT is heading the idea and it will be for the oldest group of kids during summer camp; subgroups of 3-4 kids.
Mrs. Preston then covered the Staff Report. This summer ISVI will be doing further work in regard to curriculum updates which will address new education laws. ISVI is on a revolving five year cycle to continually ensure we are teaching what is required and material is continually updated. The length of time it will take to address these updates will depend on the number of classes affected.
The next topic on the agenda was Old Business. The first item addressed was the Professional Library for Teachers. No update to this item apart from a message was going to be sent to Vice Chairperson, Olaya Landa-Vialand. The next item addressed was Wi-Fi. ISVI is in the process of getting an increase in bandwidth (from 4 kbs to 20 kbs). Frontier Communications is locally connecting lines which this step is the 2nd step of the process and they plan on testing speeds next week which will be the third and final step. The 4 kbs speed would not have been suitable for Wi-Fi however 20 kbs will be more reasonable for Wi-Fi. While this isn't necessarily an update in regard to Wi-Fi, it is an infrastructure upgrade needed to support Wi-Fi.
The next item under Old Business was an update for the advocacy of the Macy Act. The Macy Act has been introduced to the House and the Senate and is currently in progress. APH has had a change in leadership. Dr. Craig Meador, formerly of Washington State School for the Blind, is now the president of APH. APH would like to develop new goals for per student quota funding. Currently schools receive $318-356 per student. The goal is to increase this funding over the next five years to $1000 per student. There has been a $2 million increase this year. Quota funds are allotted for APH items, textbooks, Braille paper, etc. Mrs. Preston asked if there were any questions to which there were none.
The next item was the ISU Graduate Program which there was no update. ISVI will be hosting five ISU student teachers in the fall.
The final item under Old Business was the replacement of Advisory Council members. Ms. Angie Green had recently passed away. The idea of an external TVI was proposed.
The first item discussed under new business was the recent external review for accreditation. The AdvancED accreditation is on a five-year cycle and we should be always thinking about improvements. The ISVI AdvancED team will now be referred to as the "School Improvement Team" and it will have representatives from ISVI administration, English Language Arts, Math, Fine Art/CTE/or other area, and a TVI. Ms. Cindy Miller is currently the chair but will be retiring. She will be replaced by Ms. Jasmine Wells. The accreditation team consisted of three people who spent two days on campus. They were looking at leadership capacity, learning capacity, and resource capacity. The accreditation team did meet with the School Improvement Team but spent a majority of their time observing instruction, interviewing people, and meeting with school administration. One reoccurring comment from the accreditation team was, "Your school is so great." During the exit interview the accreditation team reviewed the schools scores with the School Improvement Team. The highest score possible is a 4. The school was rated on seven areas however there are currently no established standards at this point. Even though there are no set averages at this point, ISVI did very well when compared to other schools which have been evaluated. ISVI did not receive any "below expectations" areas. 40% were emerging, 40% were meeting expectations, and 20% were exceeding expectations. The accreditation team did recommend we get the word out about ISVI and that we embed digital resources into our curriculum. The team's findings will be shared with faculty and we will address areas for improvement and how to better demonstrate areas in which weren't scored appropriately.
Mr. Thien stated the Lions Club did not have anything to report.
Mr. Peters stated the Alumni Association is getting ready for their banquet which will be held May 30th through June 3rd. It will be held at the Crown Plaza in Springfield and they will be developing a picture book with audio. They currently have 24 rooms booked.
Mr. Peters provided an update for the Boy Scouts. He stated they recently lost one member due to interest. The Boy Scouts recently went to Naples and the IL River. The Scouts are doing well and plan on doing a clean-up day on May 3rd at Lake Jacksonville.
The meeting adjourned at 12:15 p.m.