A meeting of the ISVI Advisory Council was called to order on Friday January 27, 2017, at approximately 10:10 a.m. by Vice-Chair Ann Panthen. Those in attendance were ISVI Superintendent Serena Preston, council member Mark Peters and John Thien (council member Jess Rogers attended via conference call), ex-officio member Andy Ezard, Mayor of Jacksonville, Marsha Schoth, ISVI Admissions and David Miller, ISVI Vocational Principal.
After some pleasantries and introductions of all in attendance, Vice Chair Panthen explained that after Dr. Goodfellow's term as Chair expired during the summer, 2016, and that as Vice Chair she would run the meeting until they figured out how to transition. Superintendent Preston told the group that after looking at the by-laws there are no violations for Vice Chair running the meeting as Chair.
A motion to approve the minutes was made by Mark Peters and seconded by John Thien. The motion carried with all yeas.
A motion to approve the agenda was made by Andy Ezard, seconded by Jess Rogers. Motion carried with all in favor.
There were no conflicts of interest.
Superintendent Serena Preston gave the first report. She reported on the dietary department first. She said DHS is recognized as a district for the purposes of ISBE, adding that DHS is up for an audit of the USDA federal lunch and breakfast program. One of the three schools, ISD, ISVI or ICRE will be participating in this audit, they do not know which one yet. She said they have known about this audit for some time and have been meeting and preparing for it. Dietary Manager Cindy Daugherty was meeting with the DHS liaison today concerning this audit and they are doing all they can to prepare for the audit. She reported that the dietary department has been having issues with one freezer and it has been repaired.
Superintendent Preston reported to the group that the Health Center has one nurse that is transferring to a different location in Springfield. She said that was a registered nurse position they will fill with a temp while they update the job description.
Superintendent Preston reported that in the Vocational Department they have been busy with IEP's and evaluations and are planning an employer type of activity we have every year. She said there were 23 students in jobs and 12 students were in off campus jobs or internships. ISVI is taking a closer look at internships. We want our students to have off campus jobs where they are paid by employers but recently we looked at it and we determined with an internship a lot of times you can get your foot in the door. She said it doesn't have to be paid employment but they are always looking for opportunities for our students. She said learning about being employed doesn't always have to be paid employment and they are always looking for opportunities for our students. She reported the Parent Association recently had a pancake dinner at Applebee's that made them about $750. Applebee's made the food and our students filled the drinks. After that the manager approached two of the students and said he wanted to hire them.
Superintendent told the group that three employees in the Residential Department retired. She said she hated to lose good staff but those people deserve to have their time.
In the Business Office Superintendent Preston reported that the State of Illinois still has no budget. She said the news makes it sound like they are working on it. We are now spending in only Health Life and Safety for education needs. We have ordered two new busses on a three year lease. These busses are bigger. She reported that the annual ISVI Inventory Certification has been completed.
In the Personnel Department Superintendent Preston reported one math teacher resigned adding that the position is sometimes hard to fill. She said the educator positions and Birth to Three Outreach are all posted. They just have not had anyone apply. We do have a new P.E. teacher, Ken Mansell who comes to us with much experience from the Quincy school. He also serves as our wrestling coach. Christy Wyman is our new teacher in the Functional and Living Skills class; they have the dog biscuit program. She reported that we now have a new O & M Instructor, Katherine Frank and we are always looking for another one. The ISS 1 position has been filled and there are two new dietary workers who will be starting soon pointing out that some of the positions in the Personnel written report have been filled.
Superintendent Preston said the biggest news she had to report is that they have hired a full time Superintendent for ISD who will start in mid-February. The new Superintendent comes from Pennsylvania and she said she had already met the new ISD Superintendent, Julee Nist. She has an impressive education and work experience background and she has found a place to live in Jacksonville. Superintendent Preston said she plans to continue spending a lot of time at ISD to help with the transition.
Superintendent Preston asked the group if there was anything they wanted to hear about that she had not talked about. Jess Rogers said the March 3rd Career Day should be announced. Superintendent Preston told the group that every year Career Day is an assembly type format. Speakers with backgrounds in visual impairments from various types of jobs will talk to us. Jess said he would not be able to be there though he was asked to be, and he knew John Gordon would be running the show. Vice Chair Ann Panthen said her nephew went to Career Day and from the student point of view said it was interesting. He served as an intern at the radio station WEAI and he loved it. He also interned with the Salvation Army though he didn't love it as much. She said the experience of recognizing the importance of showing up on time and dressing appropriately and understanding what is expected of you in a job is good. She appreciated that her nephew was given that opportunity. She said he is currently enrolled in college classes this semester. Superintendent Preston said she wanted to point out that ISVI has seven students taking a total of 11 college courses at Lincoln Land Community College.
Superintendent Preston told the group that Kris Smith recently retired from DHS and currently no one had been assigned to fill her vacancy. Vice Chair Panthen said that would be a hard position to fill with that level of energy and knowledge that Kris had and everyone agreed.
Superintendent Preston said the ISVI Parent Association is supporting the Braille Challenge on February 2nd. No one is allowed to watch because no one is allowed in the rooms. February 6th is Pack the House night at Leo's Pizza. February 26 they are having a quarter auction and that will be in the Pathway Building on Morton Avenue. The Quarter Auction is a lot of fun and last year raised a lot of money. She said if you are coming to the auction, come early. Last year they ran out of chairs, though this year they are setting up differently. They are accepting donations and Leslie Lynch is the contact person.
Marsha Schoth from Admissions gave her report. She said she would be exhibiting at the vision conference, IAER in Naperville. A new student, a 4th grader from Peoria, started this past Monday and is a residential student. Another parent has expressed interest in our 5th year program for next fall. Another 5th grade student whose father is working on an application would like to start as soon as it is completed. She has a 7th grader from Chicago interested in coming next year and he may tour in February though that is not definite. Another parent from northern Illinois is interested but is checking to see what Wisconsin has to offer because it is closer. She said she was encouraging that mother to come and tour and she feels like they will.
There was no old business.
After Vice Chair called for new business Superintendent Preston said Dr. Goodfellow spent a lot of time on this, going through Administrative Rules and by-laws and we are confident with a membership up to 16 with four being ex-officio so really maybe 12 members. It's hard to get that many people in a room together at the same time or even on the phone. This is why we recommend reducing the numbers. We are looking at 10-12 with four being ex-officio. Two members should be someone who directly represents persons who are blind or visually impaired, i.e., parents or guardians of current students; two should be from agencies that support students with visual impairment like the National Federation for the Blind; two that represent related agencies or organization that support students with that disability once they finish with school, none of these representatives can be DHS employees. She said Dr. Goodfellow reached out to committee members for recommendations for people who might be interested at his last meeting. If you know of someone they need to write a letter of interest. She said she learned from ISD their procedure for bringing on new members. There they must submit a letter of interest. The letter is sent to the chair where their names are removed from the letter. The council reviews the letters, and a discussion follows based on letters. The council votes based on the letters. Chairman Panthen told the group that this would be her last year so the council does need to get more student parents involved. I know there are limitations but we only meet four times a year. She said she did not want people to think serving on the council was an extreme burden because it was not. She told the group that if they knew of any parents who might be interested and would be a good fit to let the council know and they would reach out to the. The group discussed the different types of persons who could serve and what they could bring to the table, for instance O & M persons or TVIs. Superintendent Preston talked about trying to alternate between NIU and ISU staff but last time NIU did not have anyone who could serve our committee. It is always good to have someone like that. This year we had six student teachers that lived in the dorms and were in our classrooms.
Superintendent Preston said the PTO is working to bring the Parent Association into a not for profit status. They are considering a new name. She reported the money raised at the Applebee's benefit was earmarked for out of state travel. We have out of state travel usually once for every sport every season. If they go and come back in one day the state will pay for that but not overnight travel. She said there is a reading contest in the library and they may be having a big sale to clear out old spirit wear.
Chairman Panthen moved on to the VII New Business: b. ISVI website. She said the reason she asked for this to be put on the agenda was because currently information on the website is minimal, maybe a phone number, address and small description. She was wondering if we could put names of council members and meeting dates on that website. Superintendent Preston said the website is being updated and the group had been waiting on decisions from her for about three weeks. She said the website issue was on her and she would take responsibility for that. She explained there was a complaint on a FB page where they made a list of schools around that were in violation of ADA and ISVI was one. ISVI has to answer that complaint and this is why our website is now under the DHS web page. This provides more checks and balances. Only a select few can post to this website. There are about ten pages nearly ready to go onto the website but Springfield must review the pages. ISVI would be thrilled to have a page for the council on the website. Jess Rogers asked if NFBI event could be added to the web page to which Superintendent Preston replied she did not know. It would have to be approved by DHS. DHS is a state agency and they have to be careful with their language so that it does not appear that they are endorsing anything or anyone. She said it was a good question and she would ask.
Agenda Item VII-d, Meeting Dates and Times. Chairman Panthen said she wanted to confirm this is a good time for everyone. She said if it's working fine, if anyone had a different idea to say so. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that the current schedule is fine. She said April 28th and July 28th are the spring and summer meetings at 10:00 a.m. right here. There was discussion about moving the summer meeting to the first week of September or to a different date to accommodate staff members who take vacations in July. For some that is the only time available to take vacation between the school schedule and camp schedules. After much discussion it was decided to leave the summer meeting on the 28th and we can cancel if necessary.
VIII, Agency Reports and Updates: Council Member John Thien said the Low Vision Clinic was scheduled for the 20th and 21st of March. He told the council about a group in Chicago area called ACTS whose mission is to provide support to visually impaired people. He said this group meets monthly to see what visually impaired people need. He said the group was founded by a visually impaired couple and they are trying to spread out to different people. He said they hope to have more information at a later date. Chairwoman Panthen said it would be interesting to know more about it.
Ex-Officio Member Andy Ezard, Mayor of Jacksonville told the group the training facility located just southeast of Jacksonville will open soon. It is a regional training facility for police officers and the facility can host different types of events. He said the facility was not built on taxpayer money but on seized money from drug inventories. We are putting that money to good use; He said taxpayer money will be used down the road for maintenance. He said the benefit this facility will bring to our law enforcement community will outweigh the cost of maintenance. He told the group there were some plans being made along Morton Avenue not ready for public knowledge. He said the Morton Avenue project was halfway complete and should be done by summer; the water plant was 57% complete. He said it would be functioning in the fall and completed in the spring of 2018. He told the group that Police Chief Tom Groeten will retire and finding his replacement will soon begin. He said he is running unopposed in the upcoming spring election, no one chose to run against him. The City will be giving attention to MacMurray College infrastructure this year. He said they have done that kind of work for IC and it was MacMurray's turn. He said they have been going back and forth between city and residents about a bike/walking trail. He said the city's Jacksonville Lake has 80 acres and only 20 are used. He said they will use that area for the trails. When asked about the Concert in the Cornfield grant he said they were awarded the grant again this year. He said there would be 12 weeks of concerts, every Friday night featuring every genre of music from classical to bluegrass.
Mark Peters said the alumni had not met since July last year and they are currently trying to figure out a reunion date.
Jesse Rogers of Blind Vendors reported on the ISVI Christmas Party, reporting that despite inclement weather all went very well. The party was held at ISVI this year with carry in pizzas from Leo's and Elvis made his traditional appearance, which all the kids seem to enjoy very much. He said Blind Vendor's is planning a mentor program and is hoping ISVI students will participate. Superintendent Preston commented on what a dedicated group of people the Blind Vendor's were to their students explaining how the Christmas Party "that almost wasn't" came to be this year for ISVI students. Superintendent Preston said the kids were happy to have pizza and dilly bars from D.Q. Chairman Panthen said she knew the party was a big hit because although she does not get updates on every event she did get a text message on this event from her student who was very excited.
Superintendent Preston told the group that federal legislation established APH for the blind. She said she is the ex-officio trustee for APH because of her position as Superintendent at ISVI explaining that is why she goes to Louisville meetings each year. She said she loved being part of APH because it helps our school. She said we have been involved in a number of research products and it benefits students nationwide. She said she had been nominated to an APH subcommittee, Educational Advisory Committee and will be required to attend meetings twice a year, the next meeting in May. She encouraged everyone that if they ever get to Louisville to check out APH. She said ISVI is recognized there because of Frank Hall who invented the Braille machine.
On a motion by Mark Peters and seconded by Andy Ezard, the meeting adjourned at 11:35 a.m.