Advisory Council Notes 10-26-2018

October 26, 2018

The ISVI Advisory Council was called to order by Vice Chair Mark Peters at approximately 9:59 a.m. Present: Superintendent Serena Preston, Vice Chair Mark Peters, Director of School Development Cindy Daugherty, Council Members Sue Brosmith and John Thien. Joining the meeting later was Assistant Superintendent Sheila Stephens and Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard. Absent: Chair Olaya Landa- Vialand, Council Member Arlana Henley, DRS Director Quinetta Wade, Education Principal Aimee Veith, Vocational Principals David Miller and Barbi Ballard and Director of Residential Services Malinda Pollard.

Mark Peters conducted roll call. Mark told the group he would be facilitating the meeting in Olaya's absence.

On a motion by Sue Brosmith and seconded by John Thien minutes of both the April and July 2018 meeting were unanimously approved with no corrections or additions.

A motion by John Thien and seconded by Sue Brosmith to approve the agenda made and unanimously agreed to. Superintendent Preston noted without a quorum the vote was not likely a legal vote.

Vice Chair Peters noted there were no conflicts of interest.

Superintendent Preston was first on the agenda to give her report which went as follows:

  • Update on budget, it's rolling along. Grant money is also flowing and we are starting to spend those.
  • Inventory has been finished and submitted

In the Education Department Superintendent Preston gave the following report:

  • ISVI continues its collaboration with Notre Dame University Computer Coding Program. She said it was a very enriching and rewarding collaboration with Notre Dame College students coming here and working with our students and our students will go to Notre Dame Campus later this year. That travel is completely funded through a Notre Dame program
  • First Quarter has ended, grades are going out.
  • ISVI has had a couple of sporting events and some have travelled, all is going well.
  • October 18th and 19th ISVI had a guest here from American Printing House, Michael Hudson. He gave a couple of presentations here and one to the Rotary Club in Jacksonville. ISVI is celebrating the induction of Frank Hall, a previous Superintendent, into the APH Hall of Fame. This is a very distinguished award in his honor.

Superintendent Preston said in the Health Center flu shots were given to students who wanted one.

Superintendent Preston said she would like to talk about Personnel. She said we always have turnover of personnel, people retire or transfer out. She reported the following:

  • Kevin Kennedy will transfer from Housekeeping to a security guard beginning November 1.
  • Tiena Kidd will soon begin her new job as Recreational Director. She will transfer from the position of RCW (Residential Care Worker
  • Our O&M Instructor Katherine Frank resigned. We are looking for someone to help us on a part time basis until that position can be filled. She said she expects that position to post in November. There are two vacancies in O&M.
  • She said most of the vacancies in Education are for vision teachers which are hard to find. We are looking to get the word out about those vacancies.
  • Housekeeping and Dietary are really low on Support Service Workers. One post is coming down and one will come down in a couple of days so we will be interviewing for two positions in a couple of weeks. We are looking into possibility of former state employees willing to come back as temps in those departments.
  • RSS, (Residential Services Supervisor) we do have one vacancy in that area. It's been posted and we are just waiting on BRS to do interviews.

Superintendent Preston said she wanted to talk about IT as follows:

  • The VOIP (Voice over Internet Phone) system project has been deployed. We've had our share of hiccups in the process.
  • She was able to show the group the new conference phone calling system. The dial pad looks like a calculator. It has a large speaker and two smaller speakers. Superintendent Preston told the group that the other phone system was so old that most employees are thrilled with the updated phones. This system has a lot of functions. We are all working to learn all of them.
  • The category 6 cabling is done throughout campus. That had to be done to handle the new phone system.
  • The State has started the new Office 365 integration on some of our machines. Some of the machines are too outdated and will have to be replaced before the Office 365 Project is completed.

Vice Chair Peters asked if the new screen in the auditorium had been replaced yet. Superintendent Preston said it had been replaced a few days before graduation and it is a remote controlled screen.

Superintendent Preston gave the following report for the Vocational Education Department:

  • There are nine new students on evaluation
  • ISVI does have students attending LLCC but the number was not immediately available.
  • Several students on campus already have jobs

In Capital Developments Superintendent gave the following report:

  • A few days before the new generator was to be installed we found out they forgot to build it. Caterpillar had lost the order. It is in the process of being built now. We are still using the leased generator. She said all the construction parts to placing the generator on campus have been completed, the concrete pads, the electrical poles, etc.
  • The roof over TLC is still expected to be replaced this fall. Other roofs are expected to be replaced probably in the spring
  • The step project is moving along but do not expect anything to start before spring. This project consists of replacing all the steps to every entryway into the Main Building along with handrails. She said we feel very fortunate to be approved for all these projects.

Director of School Development Cindy Daugherty gave her report. She said things are going really well with admissions and outreach.

  • One new student started September 30
  • Nine new students began at the beginning of the school year
  • There are potentially eight new students to start next year she is tracking

Mrs. Daugherty said she answers a lot of questions that she and Michelle Clark, Outreach, are traveling a lot. They went to Charleston the day before and were very well received. She said they gave a 15-20 minute presentation between the two of them. She said the group of Superintendents they spoke to were very focused on what they were reporting. She said she took packets with brochures and pens and she and Ms. Clark were asked a lot of questions. One Superintendent had a student that goes to ISVI. She said many of them were unaware of the services we provide. Mrs. Daugherty said they tried to make them understand we are not trying to take your students. We are a serving school, we provide for necessary needs. She said they will travel to Pana, IL on December 16 for the same type of meeting. She said they are going to concentrate their efforts of the southern part of Illinois since many of ISVI's students are from the northern part of the state. She said she has not seen it yet but she provided pictures of our students receiving the Frank Hall plaque for his induction into the APH Hall of Fame and she sent some information about that to Springfield. She told the group about the Lighthouse on the campus lawn.

Superintendent Preston explained that the miniature lighthouse in the O&M garden was donated by the Chicago Lighthouse. She said every year Chicago hosts an art fair with a theme that changes from year to year. This year it was lighthouses in honor of Blind Awareness Month. She said the Chicago Lighthouse purchased several lighthouses and then donated them to various places.

Mrs. Daugherty went on to tell the group that things were moving fast. She and Ms. Clark plan to travel a lot. They will be attending the AER Conference in February as a vendor. She said last year they talked to hundreds of people.

Vice Chair Peters asked how many students were currently enrolled at ISVI. Mrs. Daugherty said 51 or 52. Superintendent Preston said that in addition to that we have about 50 students in our outreach 0-3 programs.

Superintendent Preston told the group she attended the Special Education Director's Conference in July where she got good information on grants and legal matters, and other matters. She said in October she attended the annual meeting of Council of Schools and Services for the Blind and APH. COSB has new sponsors for that organization. One of the sponsors makes new technology which is glasses you wear and it has an audio description of what you are seeing. Another sponsor "Blindfold Games" makes game apps with audio and no graphics. She said she was elected to serve on the Board with COSB. She said the COSB conference ended on Thursday afternoon and the APH annual meeting began Thursday night. She explained that as an ex-officio member of APH she is required to attend. She continues to be on the Educational Services Advisory Committee and this would be her third year. Some of the things discussed at the conference. APH will be printing a lot of resources available to professionals and parents that the American Federation for the Blind has done previously. She said Mrs. Sheila Stephens was able to go to COSB and APH conferences this year. Superintendent Preston said she reports back to teachers and faculty about the conference and the new products. For example she shared with her staff about a competitive process for people to apply to go to APH Annual Conference through a scholarship paid for by APH. She encourages her teachers and staff to apply.

Vice Chair Peters moved the meeting along to the next agenda item DHS. Director Quinetta Wade was not available for today's meeting and there was no report.

Vice Chair Peters asked for anything in Education. Education Principal Aimee Veith was unavailable for today's meeting. Assistant Superintendent Sheila Stephens was asked if she would like to add to Superintendent's Report of the Education Department. She said everyone sends their regrets that they could not be at today's meeting. She said Goal ball was in full swing, the team is in Tennessee today. Mrs. Stephens said the School Improvement Committee is working hard to provide professional development training. She told the group that Ms. Ballard will be replacing Mr. Miller and he is relinquishing more responsibility to her and she is managing more of the IEPs. She said it was great that DHS has allowed Barbi to work alongside Mr. Miller until his retirement.

Vice Chair Peters asked if there was any report on the Parent Association. . Mrs. Stephens said the PTO was hosting a fund raiser selling t-shirts, sweat shirts and sweat pants. She said there was link she would gladly provide anyone who wants it and there are brochures in the office.

Vice Chair Peters presented Old Business to the group. He asked if there was any update on the Professional Library. Superintendent Preston said that while at APH she had a long discussion about APH taking over AFB press. She said she will follow up on that in terms of the library for teachers. Vice Chair Peters asked where the library would be. Superintendent Preston said that has not been determined. She said she will discuss with faculty. We want it to be accessible for faculty but somewhere we can track. We haven't worked out all the details.

Moving on to WI-FI under Old Business Superintendent Preston said there were no updates. She said we talked about category 6 cabling and with that we had our broadband increased from four to 20 and will have able to increase up to 50. She said she understood the higher the broadband the more likely Wi-Fi will be efficient, that you have to have a certain amount of broadband to handle Wi-Fi. She said they have asked to use Erate funds to have a limited area on campus for Wi-Fi but not the entire campus.

The next item in Old Business, the Macy Advocacy Act, there was no update on this item.

Next item Superintendent Preston explained this was an attempt at federal legislation to increase the APH quota funds to $1,000 per student, a lofty venture. Quota funds is money schools can use to provide assistive technology to students who are blind or visually impaired. This money is provided by the federal government to be used at APH. She said congress is seeing and listening. There was a two billion dollar increase last year and another increase this year. She said the current quota around $300 per student has been at that level for decades even as the cost of technology has been going up and up. She said this increase was a great thing for public schools as well. She said one braille book costs at least $1,000 to produce. The increase to $1,000 per student would be very helpful.

Vice Chair Peters asked for any updates to the ISU LVB program. There were none.

Vice Chair Peters moved on to replacement of Advisory Council members. Superintendent Preston said she had been in discussion with Olaya about that. She said Chairperson Landa-Vialand will be contacting potential new members.

Next agenda item, establishing 2018-2019 meeting dates. Superintendent Preston said without a quorum we cannot do that. But we did have a list the 4th Friday of every quarter as we have done in the past and those dates would be January 25, 2019; April 26, 2019 and July 26, 2019 until we have a quorum and dates can be set.

Vice Chair Peters moved on to New Business, conversation concerning new members. Superintendent Preston said she had hoped to have letters of interest from potential new members to read today but we do not

Vice Chair Peters moved the meeting to reports from participants around the table. He said the ISVI alumni had not met since before the reunion so there was nothing new there to report. He reported in Boys Scouts as follows:

  • Popcorn sales were over $1282
  • Meetings are being held every two weeks on Sundays
  • They have a camp out scheduled for November 9, 10 and 11.

Councilperson John Thien reported on behalf of the Lion's as follows:

  • The Low Vision Clinic went very well serving 34 kids the first day
  • The next Low Vision Clinic is tentatively set for March 3rd and 4th
  • He said he spoke with a lady from Edwardsville who was here on her 2nd visit to a Low Vision Clinic, she was happy to be here
  • Lion's continue to be in discussion toward the possibility of their agency providing an Adult Low Vision Clinic

Superintendent Preston said she had an update from Councilperson Jesse Rogers who was unable to be here. Blind Vendors will be hosting their annual Christmas Party for ISVI students. Donnie Anderson and Malinda Pollard are working the details out.

Mayor Ezard reported on city government activities as follows:

  • He extended an offer from their lobbyist/consultant Jeff Fersali to assist ISVI in any lobbying matters they may need. He reported that Jeff helped the city get a forgiveness of $1,000,000 on the water project and helped them get a hydraulic water study that would normally cost $100,000 free.
  • He spoke about the Jacksonville Regional Development Corporation, explaining that they are a group of investors and the city invests $50000 a year into this group as well as the colleges, hospital and other businesses invest in this group as well. It's a tax incentive for new businesses to relocate to Jacksonville. He is hoping to get that extended.
  • Mayor Ezard told the group about a Tri-County Group the city is involved with that talked them into the Industrial Park on the east side of town. He said 20 years later it's full. He said they were looking at another 82 acre plot of Landa between Reynolds and DOC. He told the group the days of 2,000-3,000 factory jobs has moved onto bigger cities but we can get there with 20-30 jobs at a time, citing the businesses in the Industrial Park like Mashoff's, Brahler and IL-MO. He said they all do a great job. He said they are always actively looking to bring something to Jacksonville.
  • He spoke about the rumors surrounding the new Dunkin Donuts that were untrue. The slow opening of that business was due to the investor/owner was also the general contractor. Rather than having several projects going at the same time he did one thing at a time.
  • He told the group Harbor Freight has moved into the old Staples store.
  • He said the trails at the Lake are nearly done and will be handicap accessible. He thought it would be about a mile long. He said that was paid for from gaming in the city over the last five years. He said aldermen wanted something the city could see was coming from the gaming receipts and they will continue to do this every year.
  • He spoke to their Capital Development budget they have that is usually a million dollar budget. Sometimes they have need for 6 or 7 million dollars. He said their next big project will be fire trucks. Two are 90's model trucks that need replaced.
  • He talked about the East State Street project, their 4th downtown project. He said they will be getting new sidewalks and stoplights, just like on Morton Avenue, from the square down to South Clay.
  • He said the city plans on spending some MFT funds in front of Hamilton's as well while they are doing the East State Street project because the city gets a lot of use from Hamilton's. They will be redoing sidewalks and roadside parking.

Superintendent Preston asked Mayor Ezard when they expected to start the East State Street project and he anticipates it will be late spring. Everyone will be notified. Superintendent Preston told the group about the great time they had at Nichol's Park during the 4th of July, and everything was free except food. Superintendent Preston said she noticed Duncan Park has new playground equipment. Mayor Ezard said their Park Attendant was responsible for that. He said the city has been adamant about putting money in the budget for parks. He told the group about how much Nichols Park was now, talking about the new Wilderness type walk that is lined with Illinois grasses and a wet area.

There was some discussion about the recent closing of Marco's Pizza. Cindy Daugherty said it was a real loss for ISVI. Marco's was a sponsor of ISVI. Mayor Ezard said he too was a big fan of Marco's Pizza and he said although they were always busy there, they just couldn't meet their quota. He said Domino's is relocating to Morton across from Little Caesar's. He said he met with the owners of Lincoln Square to discuss its future. He said he had not given up hope for the Casey's near here that closed. He said he didn't understand why they chose to close this Casey's that he thought was constantly busy. He said he realized it was a big hit for ISVI.

Councilperson Sue Brosmith did not have anything to report.

Assistant Superintendent Sheila Stephens said she would like to add that FFA state officers are going to be on campus in February. Superintendent Preston said it was a really big deal and the last time it happened was about 7 years ago.

The meeting adjourned at 11:17 a.m. on a motion by Sue Brosmith, seconded by John Thien.