School for the Visually Impaired
Present: Dr. Michael Zost, Dr. Derrald Taylor, Trudy Diepholz, Sharon Wimmer, Lisa McDaniel, Jeff Schulte, Kelsey Thompson, Richard Schrumpf, William Bielawski, Amy Grau, Howard Thomas
Absent: Chris Clark-Bischke, Tomeka Clark, Araceli Avina
Grace Hou, Robert Kilbury, Francisco Alvarado, Reggie Clinton, Janet
I. Roll Call/Introductions/Approval of Minutes/Adoption of Agenda
Dr. Zost, Chairperson, called the meeting to order. Each person who was present introduced himself or herself. Dr. Zost welcomed Grace Hou to the Advisory meeting.
Members were asked to review the minutes from the September 2009 meeting for any changes or additions. Mr. Bielawski noted that the date should be changed to reflect September 18, 2009. Mr. Bielawski also requested a correction to be made under item # 1. Corrections were noted and made. A motion and second was made to accept changes to the minutes.
II. New Business (these notes will follow the flow of conversation)
Meeting with Grace Hou and staff about concerns for ISVI:
thanked everyone for inviting her to this open discussion. She would like
everyone to know that she is always available to everyone. Recently it has been
a very stressful time due to the budget session. We are looking at cuts across
the entire State in fiscal year 2010. There have been many programs that
Ms. Hou asked if it's time to discuss the issue of where the school should be, and what agency it should fall under.
A Council member asked if all state budget funds were cut across the state, what viewpoint does the Governor has about the Department of Human Services, and if this Governor is concerned with what happens to ISVI & ISD.
Ms. Hou said that this Governor's record shows he understands the value of what is needed. He had to borrow to keep the State going. However, we as a State need to review the cuts and impress upon the public the things the Department of Human Services can't provide and make hard decisions, to focus on core priorities and success based programs. Dr. Zost stated that to support programs based on success, the school should continue to emphasize being a state-wide resource for educational services as in our mission statement. Mr. Thomas wanted to know if it was the cost per student that is hurting ISVI. When he attended ISVI there were 200 students. He feels that sending students to their local school isn't necessarily better for them. He asked if there a reason we can't get more students enrolled at ISVI? There are a lot of students who are visually impaired in Illinois.
Ms. Hou wanted the advisory council to know that there has been a lot of conversation about where ISVI and ISD should be. Dr. Zost noted that educational policies have changed and local schools are trying to address issues in their own setting. ISVI is the least restrictive environment for many visually impaired students and we need to continue serving students. It would be helpful if we had a survey of what graduates from ISVI are doing once they have left ISVI.
Ms. Hou wanted to know if ISVI
could compare the outcomes of those students who have graduated from the School
to the students who are in the public schools, and if we have seen an increase
in academic scores. Dr. Kilbury, Ms. Hou and Mr. Alvarado all agree that DHS
wants ISVI to be in the best place that helps the students. The question came
up about what The Philip J. Rock Center and School
was in Chicago? This school is for deaf-blind
students. Mr. Thomas stated that blindness isn't the only disability that
students have at ISVI. Dr. Kilbury stated that there has been progress in the
public schools for students with minor visual impairments. At ISVI, they would
get more services if we had to compare. We should note that individuals or
outcomes may differ. Dr. Zost noted that the curriculum has changed with what
is offered to visually impaired students today. The technology issues have
changed drastically. Maybe our goal should be to look at having blind or
visually impaired students rotate
Mrs. Breen reiterated that there are great programs at ISVI, but the public doesn’t know about us. This is what we need to work on through getting the word out to all school districts. Mr. Thomas asked about what kind of services a visually impaired student who was in a local school district would receive. Mr. Clinton answered that a student might get an O & M educator twice a month or Braille several times a week for about 45 minutes. This depends on what needs the student has and the case load of the VI educator. Mr. Thomas doesn't see how this would be of help in the education of a student. When they come to ISVI they get about 2 hours of Braille a day. Ms. Diepholz states that in the IEP, parents are told about ISVI. Mr. Williams states that in IEP's, the information given is the option for placement at ISVI. This is on a need to know basis. Public schools can't provide sports, recreation activities, or even the possibility to get work for these students. Ms. Hou said there is only so much we can do. We need to be proactive for ISVI.
explained that when we have tours, or a goal-ball meet, these kids want to know
how they can become a student. Ms. Hou wanted to know if there is a mailing
list so information about ISVI can be sent out. Mr. Clinton explained that we
have tried this before with ISBE and they won't share the information and it
would be costly. Ms. Hou thought that DHS could provide
Ms. Grau wanted to know about funding for ISVI summer camp. This was cut due to funding last year and could possibly not even be held this year due to budget issues. This is where we get many of our students. Ms. Grau would like to see ISVI offer extended programs for summer school. Ms. Hou says that DRS has already had a sit down about ISVI. Mr. Alvarado would like to see a sub-committee be geared toward this aspect and meet with the Chicago Public Schools for outreach and to promote students with visual impairments. Ms. Hou suggested said we need to get the information directly to the parents. Dr. Zost says that the Chicago Public Schools state they don't need ISVI, but the question is where the 0-3 program receives their information. Ms. Grau says she received her information from the pediatric opthalmologist. She was given many resources through the doctor and The Hadley School for the Blind.
Ms. Hou went on to the second part of the agenda inquiring, where ISVI & ISD be housed in DHS? Mr. Bielawski stated that he feels that ISVI should be under the direction of the governor. Mr. Schulte, a parent, wanted to know why the message isn't getting out to families, and if we would be better off under ISBE. Mr. Clinton stated that ISBE doesn't believe in residential schools, and if we would be funded by ISBE that this would kill our budget. Ms. Grau wanted to know about going under Higher Ed., they are an entity of themselves. Mr. Clinton stated we need to explore where we best fitted as a residential school. ISVI follows public school rules, but we aren't a public school. Ms. Hou stated that The Philip Rock School for the Blind is not considered a public school and they are under GRF funding. Mrs. McGovern said that the Department of Corrections is their own school district. Dr. Zost asked the Governor’s Chief of State, Jerome Stermer in August if it would be possible to be a charter school Mr. Stermer explained that under the Illinois Charter School Law in order to be our own charter school, a school in our district would have to close down a school so funding could be transferred. Mrs. McGovern said that The Department of Corrections is under a line item in the Department of Juvenile Justice and they have a specific code they are funded through. Mr. Clinton explained that right now under DHS we have no approval to hire staff as everything has to go through MIS & CMS in order for the school to run.
asked that we all think about the things that need to be improved on, where we
want to go with the two schools, and what agency would work the best for the
schools. This is a very serious matter. We need to make an assessment in a
couple of weeks and how to approach the evaluation. We need to try to do this
right and not quickly just to solve the problem. We need to look at other
schools and how they are being operated. Mrs. Breen agrees that we need to
determine what agency we should be under. We need to list our options. Both
Mrs. Breen & Mr. Clinton have done some research on this matter. Ms. Hou would
Replacing Educator Vacancies: Why the delay?
Ms. Hou asked if there would be a way to mandate education staff to become vision certified. Mr. Clinton explained we can not do this with present educators due to the fact they were grandfathered in when the Braille grievance was settled. This would be a union issue if we were to pursue this with our current educators. There is a possibility we can do this with new hires. Dr. Taylor stated this should be a priority when hiring an educator. Ms. Grau agreed. Ms. Hou would like to have a discussion with our Labor Management group to explore this. Ms. Wimmer stated that there is funding that can be sought to become vision certified. There is federal grant money and courses on line. Mr. Clinton explained that it would probably take a 2 to 3 year window to get vision certification on new hires.
Alvarado supervises this position so he will address the issue. Ms. Olson is
the liaison for all three schools. She works on policy, procedures, research,
ISAC representative, grant applications and research, and responds to all DHS
correspondence both inside the state agencies and outside. There is one thing
Ms. Olson has been working on since the beginning of the school year which is
why ISVI has not received the Pepsi vending machine commission money. ISVI in
the past has received the Pepsi money, which funded our activity fund and with
the past governor things changed. Ms. Olson has been working on this daily.
Ms. Olson also secured a grant from Lowe's last year, which will be used to
purchase outside furniture for an outside bistro. An additional grant she is
working on at this time
What is DHS’s view on disabilities? Are all disabilities equal and require equal funding and support?
stated that visual impairments is viewed as the smallest segment of the
disabilities. There is a small percentage of what is called the
“vanilla-blind”, but if you look at the dual diagnosis (vision impairment in
addition to at least one other disability), this is off the radar. The question
was asked, “Is DHS fighting to serve this population?” Ms. Hou replied yes. We
can only advocate within our bureaucracy. The Advisory Council can advocate
statewide. Ms. Hou will be meeting with the Governor's office and DHS today at
3:00pm to discuss many issues.
How does DHS determine what cuts will occur at the Schools, especially ISVI? How can DHS be more active in searching out, or at least assisting with, grant opportunities for the agencies it serves (ISVI Summer Camp, Opening Doors – Parent/Infant Institute, etc…)?
asked if funding for the summer camp will be available this year. Mr. Clinton
explained at this point we need to know what cuts there will be and if we have
money in the budget. Ms. Hou said that we are to make the summer programs
Mr. Clinton explained that our Parent-Infant Program is funded by a grant from ISBE, which has been cut the last two years. ISVI has adjusted to only having the camp three days and is planning on cutting it again this year to two days.
thanked the Advisory Council for inviting her to this meeting. This meeting has
brought a lot of information her way and she is planning on talking this
afternoon on a few subjects. She will be in touch with Mr. Clinton on the
results on the committees. Please feel free to contact her with questions or
Discussions after Ms. Hou left the meeting
Bielawski asked the Superintendent what agency he felt ISVI should report to.
Mr. Clinton explained that he is open for conversation and would be supportive
to whatever is in the best interest of our students. We have legislators that
are very supportive of our school. Things seemed to get worse when our last
governor took office. Dr. Taylor explained that he and Dr. Zost and a few
members from both ISD met with the governor's Chief of Staff recently and he
seems to be on board with changes need to be made at both schools. Mr. Clinton
stated that there are two things we need to remember; one is DHS is not our
enemy, and number two is that we have their support on this on all levels. What
we need to do is create a list of what's good and what needs to be changed. An
option could be to stay where we are and create an educational division in DHS.
Ms. Diepolz agrees that DHS knows what ISVI is about. Mr. Clinton explained
that it could take a legislative act or executive order to change things, and we
have the support of both. We can't be afraid to make the moves since this is
the future of ISVI and future students for both schools and the area. Dr. Zost
feels that since they have had direct contact with Ms. Hou things seem to be
getting done much faster.
III. Old Business: - Dr. Michael Zost
Motion was made to adjourn at 2:15 p.m. and there was a second made and accepted.
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