Minutes from Board of Trustees Meeting

January 15, 2020

Conference Call



Board Members Participating:  Greg Szabo, Lily Clifton, Keri Clark, Reg George, Berl Colley, and Nancy McDaniel.


Board Members Absent:  Brent Stark and Dennis Mathews.


Ex-Officio Members Participating:  Jim Eccles (Washington Federation of State Employees Local #1225), Joleen Ferguson (Washington Council of the Blind), Marci Carpenter (National Federation of the Blind of Washington), and Krista Bulger (Parent Representative).


Ex-Officio Members Absent:  Stephanie Face (Teacher Representative).


WSSB Staff Members Participating:  Mr. Scott McCallum (Superintendent) and Janet Kurz (recording secretary).


January 15, 2019 – 7:30-8:15pm                                              

Nancy called the meeting to order at 7:30pm. 


Business Meeting:

Old Business:

*      Approve board meeting minutes of November 8, 2019. Greg moved to approve the minutes as submitted; Keri seconded the motion.  The minutes were approved unanimously.


New Business:

Review/Approve 2020-2021 School Year Calendar:

Lily asked if the WSSB always starts school after Labor Day.  Scott explained that the WSSB attempts to follow the Vancouver School District calendar as closely as possible due to the number of WSSB students who attend Hudson’s Bay High School.  There are other considerations when creating the calendar such as number of days and hours required for student’s instruction, alignment with the Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth (CDHY) for transportation purposes, etc.  Scott meets with each union (Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) and the Washington Public Employees Association (WPEA)) to discuss the draft calendar.  Jim stated that another factor regarding the start date is considering the WSSB Outreach department and the many school districts they serve across the state. 


Berl moved to approve the 2020-2021 school year calendar as presented; Reg seconded the motion.  The calendar was approved unanimously.


Superintendent’s Report

Scott reviewed the following: 

o   Highlights from November: 

·         The bid process for the Strategic Plan process closed in November and the company, Mass Ingenuity, was recently selected to assist the WSSB with the Strategic Plan.  Scott will be meeting with a representative from Mass Ingenuity in January.  This company has experience with the Oregon Commission for the Blind (OCB) and also the Washington State Health Care Authority.  Mass Ingenuity was the lowest bidder and were also the only company who had experience working with blind and visually impaired organizations and individuals.

·         Safety has been a big focus for the WSSB this year.  In November, Anne Baker (Human Resources Director), Dave Zilavy (Facilities Manager), Janet, and Scott attended a one-day workshop regarding Active Threats.  The person who provided the training encouraged participants to look into obtaining an emergency notification system very much like the one that the WSSB has in place.  A sub-committee has been established that includes Sean McCormick (Director of On-Campus Programs), Corey Grandstaff (Residential Program Supervisor), Dave Zilavy, Anne, Janet and Scott to  discuss safety drills, lockdown procedures, notifications, etc. 

·         Jim inquired about the iQ Credit Union grant that was received by the WSSB noted in Scott’s superintendent’s report. This grant was applied for by Danya Borowski (IT Supervisor) and will provide funds for a robot for our computer science classes.

o   Highlights from December: 

·         Meetings continued regarding the upcoming capital project plan, cottage remodel.

·         The Pacific Foundation for Blind Children (PFBC) held their annual fundraiser, “Feel The Music” in December.  The PFBC provides a lot of funding and support for on campus and Outreach programs.  The PFBC’s major focus has been funding the Mobile Low Vision Clinic.  Former students Mac Potts and Nick Baker provided the entertainment at the event.

·         In December, the Governor’s budget was announced. The Governor included over a million dollars to continue the proposed Independence Hall which would house the Learning Independence for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT) program.  This funding is for the design phase of the building. Scott stated that he appreciates the support that the WSSB has received from the legislators and Governor’s office.

o   Highlights from January:

·         The legislative session started this week; this is a short, supplemental, 60-day session which is intended to fix any budget issues that have emerged during the biennium or went unsolved.

·         Scott attended the Governor’s State of the State meeting and also attended an educational hearing in Olympia regarding a bill that could potentially impact volunteer programs at schools. 

·         January welcomed the addition of the Deaf/Blind project and three new staff.  This venture involved a lot of agencies and hard work on behalf of Anne, Mary Sarate (Director of Business and Finance), and Danya.  This was very much a team effort. 

·         Marci thanked Scott for his good work and commented that it was great to hear that iQ Credit Union is assisting the school as they have some accessibility issues with their online banking.  Scott also commented that the iQ Credit Union has been a huge supporter of the PFBC on a monthly basis as well as sponsoring their fundraisers.  Jim stated that there was an article in the Columbian newspaper recently regarding accessibility.  Jim felt it would be beneficial if the Federal Government would adopt accessibility standards.  Another issue is that people who are in IT are not required to have training in accessibility.  Marci stated that a complaint was filed by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) regarding accessibility issues to the Boeing Employees Credit Union; they are working very actively on their accessibility regarding online banking and app. 


Committee Reports:

*      Education Committee (Brent-Chair)

*      Buildings and Grounds Committee (Greg-Chair)

o   Nancy reported that she has not been on campus since the November board meeting.

o   Scott reported that the campus looks beautiful as always.  Scott stated another item that was included in the capital budget was additional funds for re-roofing the Old Main building.  An additional $75,000 was included to fund that project.

*      Management Committee (Greg-Chair)

o    No report at this time.

*      Legislative Committee (Lily-Chair)

o   Scott reported that at the hearing he attended on January 13, Representative Monica Stonier told the people attending that the WSSB and CDHY is the home to the best served students in the state of Washington. 

o   Lily asked if Scott could send her a list of the bills that the WSSB is tracking.  Scott stated that the Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) sends out information regarding bills that may have an impact.  As of January 15, the WSSB has received and completed three fiscal notes requested by the legislature.  Scott will forward the DSB communication to Lily.  Scott stated if anything comes up, he will reach out to the legislative committee.    



*      Nancy stated she appreciates the Facebook presence that the WSSB has been working on this year.  Sean McCormick has provided these videos.  Nancy encouraged the board to look at the videos. 


There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:15pm.  The next Board meeting will be held on March 6, 2020 at 11am.




Nancy McDaniel, Chair                                                                 Scott McCallum, Superintendent



Superintendent’s Report – January 2020


Each month, I will provide a list of the more significant activities of the Superintendent’s office.  Each month, I will describe a highlight or two in more detail. If at any point you would like more detail, information, or have questions, please do not hesitate to call, email, or schedule a time to meet in person.  I want to make sure that you have the information that you need to advise and guide what we do to meet the needs of youth who are blind or visually impaired throughout Washington State.



November 12:       Met with Rick Hauan, Director of the Center for Deafness and Hard of Hearing Youth (CDHY) regarding Regional Programs

November 13:       Washington Sensory Disability Services (WSDS) meeting – Tacoma

November 14:       Workshop “Surviving the Active Lethal Threat in Schools:  What Every School Needs to Know”

November 15:       Parent Infant Playgroup-Spokane

November 19:       Lockdown drill

November 20:       Results Washington meeting – “Design Challenge”

November 21:       iQ Credit Union grant for WSSB

November 26:       Executive/Small Agency Cabinet meeting



One of the themes this year has been student and staff safety.  We have built on our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) efforts; providing more resources for teachers with the addition of the Lions Quest SEL Curriculum for Middle and High School students, and the addition of our new full-time Licensed Clinical Social Worker, RaeJean Hendricks. You may recall that we successfully requested the additional budgetary support for the social worker last legislative session.  We have added the Raptor Visitor Management System.  We have added the Alertus Emergency Notification System throughout campus.  We have also continued to pursue safety-related training, run a variety of safety drills (monthly), and discuss safety at the beginning of each meeting of the administrative team. 


Several members of the administrative team including myself attended a very informative safety training hosted by our friends at Evergreen School District. The training was provided by a retired law enforcement officer from Washington with extensive knowledge and experience in “active threats” in schools. We were proud (and relieved) to learn that our new Alertus Emergency Notification System is the exact type of system being recommended as best practice. Collectively we walked away with many important takeaways to continue to improve our readiness for emergency situations. About one week after the school threat training, we held our first campus-wide lockdown training of the year, our first with the Alertus system.  Overall, the drill was a success.  A success in that we noticed what went well, what can be improved, and how we can improve how we manage how we facilitate emergency drills at WSSB. Our efforts our ongoing.



December 4:          Cottage remodel meeting

December 6:          Event at Governor’s residence (Mac Potts-entertainment)

December 8:          Pacific Foundation for Blind Children (PFBC) annual Feel The Music-fundraiser

December 9-10:   Accreditation training

December 10:       Fire drill

December 13:       Staff and cabinet event – Governor’s mansion

December 16:       Social Emotional Learning (SEL) celebration-Irwin

December 18:       Met with Washington Federation of State Employees shop steward re draft 2020-2021 school year calendar

December 19:       Attended Winter Holiday Student Program

December 20:       ESD 112 Regional Special Education Directors meeting at the WSSB

December 20:       Met with Washington Public Employees Association shop steward re draft 2020-2021 school year calendar



I attended the Winter Holiday Student Program again this year. Celebrations such as this are often such special moments and thanks to the great work of our fantastic music teacher, Mr. Shane Dittmar, this one was no different.  Students performed in a variety of formats (solos, duets, groups and more) and with a variety of instruments.  The mood was festive and celebratory filled with song and cheer. Pride and sense of accomplishment were common throughout the evening, as were the smiles of both students and families.  Along with the other board members of the Pacific Foundation for Blind Children (PFBC), which includes former WSSB Superintendent Dr. Dean Stenehjem (1990-2016), I served food to our volunteers, families, and students, to kick off the evening.  The PFBC has been great partners with WSSB and collaborators in providing specialized services to blind and visually impaired students.  It is also worth noting that PFBC provides significant support to our students on campus during the holidays.  This year they provided each student with winter gloves, hats, braille UNO, home labeling and personal hygiene kits.  Thank you, PFBC, for what you do for students at WSSB and throughout Washington State!


The Governor’s budget has been announced.  Being midway through the biennium, this budget is considered supplemental.  As advised by our agency’s assigned capital analyst, we have continued to pursue support for the Transition Center project, also known as Independence Hall. You may recall that we have completed a Feasibility Study of the Ahlsten building, followed by the Pre-Design Phase work with an architect.  The Pre-Design is required to inform our Design Phase request.  We were excited to see just over one million dollars allocated to fund the Design Phase of the Independence Hall Project.  Noticing that this project was highlighted in the narrative summary published by the Governor’s office was icing on the cake. Oftentimes, the Governor’s proposed budget can be seen as a high-water mark.  We will monitor budget proposals and potential fiscal impacts of bills introduced during the upcoming legislative session and keep you informed on any potential impacts to WSSB.



January 8:               WSDS meeting

January 9:               Council of Schools and Services for the Blind (COSB) board meeting

January 10:             Clark County Superintendents meeting

January 13:             Education sub-cabinet meeting (Olympia)

January 14:             Governor’s “State of the State meeting”

January 15:             Emergency protocol meeting

January 15:             Board of Trustees conference call



Happy New Year! Monday, January 13 marks the beginning of the 2020 Legislative session. The 2020 session is a short, 60-day session expected to span January to March.  Typically, during even-year legislative sessions, the legislature is focused on emerging issues or addressing issues that weren’t resolved the previous year.  I will be attending weekly Education Sub-Cabinet meetings throughout the session in Olympia.


My honest highlight of January is the ability to officially welcome the Washington DeafBlind Project to WSSB.  A lot of work by many people went into the transition.  Thank you to CDHY, WSDS, PSESD, NCESD, and OSPI for your collaboration.  Katie Humes (Director), Khanh Huhtala (Program Coordinator), and Sarah Godwin (DeafBlind Consultant) are official WSSB employees as of January 1.  This small, yet effective team provides support statewide for youth who are DeafBlind, their families, and local education teams. We are so lucky to have such an amazing resource become part of our already exceptional team of professionals. As you may recall from Katie’s presentation at the last board meeting, Katie and her team will work remotely though we hope that you have the chance to meet them in person sometime soon.  They truly are exceptional.



Meetings with department managers and administration team

PFBC meetings

Executive Cabinet meetings

Goal Council meetings

Clark County and Regional Superintendent meetings

NWABA Board meetings

UEB committee meetings

Oregon Commission for the Blind Board meetings

Washington DeafBlind Advisory Council meetings



In case you may be wondering where our authority originates, please check out Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 72.40 “State Schools for the Blind, Deaf, Sensory Handicapped”.  RCW 72.40 are the enabling laws for WSSB and the School for the Deaf.  Their roots lie in an 1886 Act of the Legislature of the Territory of Washington (Washington was not yet a State) that established a “school for deaf, mute, blind, and feeble-minded youth of Washington Territory”.  Students considered to be “feeble-minded” moved to another location around 1901. 1913 marked the official split and creation of WSSB and the Washington State School for the Deaf, currently called the Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth (CDHY).  The actual enabling laws (RCW 72.40) weren’t officially established until 1959.  Our enabling laws have further evolved and if you are ever interested in learning more about the wonderful history of WSSB, I would be happy to share what I know and share some of the amazing resources I have located and reviewed in preparation for my presentation to the legislative committee.