Minutes from Board of Trustees Meeting

November 9, 2018

Vancouver, Washington



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


Board Members Absent:  Dennis Mathews


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


WSSB Staff Members Participating:  Mr. Scott McCallum (Superintendent), Sean McCormick (Director of On-Campus Programs), and Janet Kurz (recording secretary).


November 9, 2018 – 11am-2pm                                              

Nancy called the meeting to order at 11am. Nancy announced that there will be an executive session immediately following the board meeting.


Business Meeting:

Old Business:

*      Approve board meeting minutes of September 21, 2018. Berl moved to approve the minutes as submitted; Greg seconded the motion.  The minutes were approved unanimously.


New Business:


Department Highlight – STEM, Sean McCormick, Director of On-Campus Programs: 

*      Sean presented the following:

o   Sean said that STEM encompasses four phases at the WSSB with the highest level being seamless and a project-based learning approach.  STEM can be taught as individual classes but at the highest-level Math and Science is combined and seamless.  Due to WSSB being a small school, there are limited offerings in the Science area.  Currently, WSSB offers Biology, Environmental Science, Life Science, Earth Science and Physical Science.  In Technology, WSSB offers Computer Science, Advanced Placement Computer Science, and Woodshop.  WSSB also offers the following courses in Math:  General Math, Consumer Math, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry and Trigonometry/Pre-calculus.  Students are also able to access courses at the nearby Hudson’s Bay High School and also Clark Community College.  Nancy asked how many students are focused on STEM based careers.  Sean said the numbers are increasing.  Reg asked what Science equipment is being used.  Sean said WSSB uses veneer lab equipment which is accessible. 

o   Discussion was held regarding the EPIQ Program which is a computer programming and coding course.  Scott and Professor Andreas Stefik (who runs the EPIQ program) presented regarding this at the recent Council of Services and Schools for the Blind (COSB) conference in October.  One of WSSB math TVI’s is a member of the EPIQ group.

o   Sean stated that the real challenge is that our students need significant intervention in math skills.  A large percentage of students are not meeting proficiency standards.  Scott feels this is a nationwide issue.  Sean discussed WSSB student’s state assessment results which indicate that our students need additional supports in math as our students are testing way below the state level.  It is important to note that a number of WSSB students have additional challenges.  Berl felt that we are on the right track; when Berl graduated from the WSSB the only math he had was basic math so when he got to college he had to take things all over again.  Sean said at this point, it is important for us to look at content experts to help and he is working on developing a plan with accessing professional development for math teachers. 

o   WSSB currently offers additional instruction time for students in math including 30-minute math labs in addition to regular courses and Sean has seen positive gains due to this.  Sean remarked that one of the challenges we face is including the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) and this has to be a key component to what WSSB offers students.  Marci asked if we have discussed this issue with other schools for the blind.  Scott said that when he was on the re-accreditation committee at the Perkins School for the Blind, their math Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) asked if they could connect with our TVI’s as they are experiencing similar challenges. 

o   Due to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) guidelines the WSSB is targeted for support for low graduation rates, even though we are at a 100% graduation rate.  Being a part of this program will provide more funding for professional development.  Currently WSSB has 4 math TVI’s.  Brent stated that the math TVI’s probably feel isolated as most small school district teachers do.  Brent informed the group that there are math fellows who are nominated by their school Principals who attend quarterly meetings through OSPI.  This is intended so that they can learn from other math fellows and bring what they learn back to their schools.  Brent suggested we talk to a fellow in a neighboring school district to learn more and will send Sean additional information. 

o   Marci asked if there are a lot of students who need to learn Nemeth. Sean said students are learning Nemeth embedded in their classes and math labs have helped support that endeavor. 

o   Keri asked if Outreach TVI’s can provide students with additional math support.  Scott stated that the Outreach TVI is not the math teacher and they support the classroom teacher and Outreach TVI’s can help pre-teach the concepts. 

o   Marci asked if WSSB is working with companies regarding technology that makes graphics more accessible to students.  Scott said most of the braille comes from our Ogden Resource Center who does a lot of graphics.  


March Board Meeting date (input from board for department update, time change)

o   The March meeting will begin at 9am on March 15.  Regarding department updates, Scott was approached by a teacher who would like to discuss inclusion.  Nancy would also like to learn more about the Learning Independence for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT) program.    


Superintendent’s Report

Scott reviewed the following: 

o   Scott’s highlight for the month of September was working on teacher pay.  Scott met with the teacher’s union earlier this week regarding this and the Center for Childhood Deafness and Hearing Loss (CDHL) has similar concerns as our teachers are supposed to be paid commensurate with the Vancouver Public School teachers.  However, Vancouver teachers receive TRI funds which the WSSB is not able to provide because they are provided through local levy mill dollars.  Scott has been discussing this issue with the Governor’s office and this may result in legislative action.  This issue was brought before the Washington state Supreme Court many years ago and it was ruled that we are not able to provide TRI funds.  Currently our teachers make anywhere from $5,000-$10,000 less per year due to TRI funds.   Scott also discussed this issue with OSPI’s Superintendent Reykdal.  Superintendent Reykdal understands the issue and is going to try to help us with this so our teachers are appropriately compensated.  Nancy asked if there is anything the board could do to support this.  Scott said if this issue moves forward, potentially, especially if it becomes a legislative issue.   

o   Scott was elected to the Board of Directors through COSB.  Scott was also nominated and elected to the Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) through the American Printing House for the Blind (APH).  This committee, comprised of six people, each serve a 3-year term.  Scott will be traveling to Louisville in the Spring of 2019 to attend committee meetings. 

o   In October, the Vancouver City Mayor attended the White Cane Day celebration at the WSSB and started the day with an official proclamation.  Jeff Bowler, WSSB TVI reached out to the Mayor’s office to make this happen.

o   In November, the WSSB worked through a challenging situation due to a person who is sending anonymous threats using social media, texts and emails.  These are being sent to students and staff. WSSB has implemented security measures at the campus (locking exterior doors) and changing Wi-Fi codes in an attempt to provide maximum security and safety.  The WSSB has been working with the Cybercrimes unit through the Vancouver Police Department who has assured us that this is not an abnormal occurrence at schools. Warrants were issued to Facebook, Google and Apple. Scott does not feel that the students and staff are in physical danger, however the emotional trauma has been pervasive. 

o   WSSB is looking at procuring an emergency alert system that is fully accessible to people who are blind and deaf that would allow us to provide notifications on computer desktops, enable audible signals, send messages through email and text.  WSSB is going through the process of purchasing service.  Other schools for the blind use this system as well as Gallaudet University. 

o   Joleen asked for direction regarding how much information she could share regarding the cybercrime situation. Scott stated that since this is an ongoing investigation there are many details we are not at liberty to share.  Scott would appreciate it if information needs to be shared that they discuss it with Scott first. 


Ex-Officio’s Reports:

*      WFSE Local #1225 (Jim Eccles):

*      Washington Council of the Blind (Joleen Ferguson):

o   Joleen reported that the WCB fall convention was held November 1-3 at the CrownePlaza Hotel in Seattle.  Joleen reported that presentations were heard from the “big three” which included WSSB, Department of Services for the Blind and the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL).  The WCB has arranged to have the next three fall conventions at the DoubleTree at SeaTac. 

o   The WCB assists the WTBBL with the Braille Challenge.  In Washington there will be two sites; Seattle (January) and Spokane (February).  The WTBBL helps with food, t-shirts, etc.  More information will be posted on the website soon (www.wcbinfo.org). 

o   A presidents meeting and legislative seminar will be held February 23-26, 2019 at Alexandria, Virginia.  Both Denise and Berl Colley will be attending.

o   Joleen said the ACB has been working with the Marrakesh Treaty to ensure that people outside the US will have access to copyright material in alternative formats.  They have also reached an agreement with Hulu so that programs that are streamed are accessible.   

o   During the state convention, the Artificial Intelligence Remote Access (AIRA) system was demonstrated.  Joleen explained that this is like the FaceTime app but more robust.  More and more public places are allowing people to use AIRA for free. AIRA works by having the blind person wear glasses that has a camera embedded into them and then they call a phone number and be connected to someone who could provide sight guidance assistance, i.e. getting through an airport, reading mail, etc.  For ACB members seeking employment they are allotted 100 hours free to assist them in locating a job. 

o   2019 application information for scholarships is now available online. 

*      National Federation of the Blind (Marci Carpenter):

o   Marci received an award from the Seattle Mayor’s office (Advocate of the Year).  This was primarily due to the work done to ensure that disabled employees do not receive sub-minimum wages for work.  Many people received back wages due to this.  This issue will be pursued at a state level with a bill scheduled to drop in January. 

o   The 2018 state convention went well with a large turnout and several students in attendance through the DSB youth services.  NFB’s President, Mark Riccobono attended and spoke at the convention.  During the convention, scholarships were awarded.  Also, convention scholarships were awarded this year. 

o   Information regarding the national scholarship opportunity is in the Irwin weekly newsletter.  30 scholarships will be available nationally.

o   The national convention will be held at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in 2019.  Marci will send out the link for scholarships and that will be available until March 2019.  One component for applying is the students must have a letter of recommendation to submit with application.  Special lodging rates have been acquired ($99 per night) with activities for people of all ages.

o   Nationally, the NFB will be hosting more STEM events. Expenses are paid for students to attend and affiliates can give a small stipend also for students to attend. 

o   Every year the United States Association for Blind Athletes (USABA) and the Blue Cross run a national fitness challenge. Organizations can sign up and receive FitBits.  This year, the NFB of Washington signed up to participate. Marci will be talking to the WSSB to see if the students want to participate.  This program will start on December 1, 2018.  Jennifer asked if Marci would send the information to her as she would be happy to take the lead for students at the WSSB. 

o   Another program that starts in December is the Braille Readers are Leaders.  This is a 6-7 week braille reading contest with prizes available for all age groups.  Information regarding this program will be sent out through the EVE listserv and other publications. 

o   The NFB of Washington conventions will be held at the Hotel RL in Olympia on November 1-3, 2019 and November 6-8, 2020. 

*      Parent Representative (Krista Bulger):

o   Krista said parents have been nervous due to the recent cyber harassment. For obvious reasons, details cannot be divulged to everyone and some parents are having a hard time with this but understand.  Trust needs to be placed in the WSSB to take care of the kids. 

o   Krista was on campus attending an event recently and noticed that the lighting on campus had improved.  Scott stated that the outside lights in Irwin were changed to LED bulbs and landscaping has been done for additional visibility on campus. 

o   Scott asked Krista if the parents felt that the information they have been receiving regarding the cyber harassment has been adequate.  Krista said she is a local parent and she trusts that her children’s best interests are the priority. Krista has no reservations and feels confident in the information she has received.  Scott said finding the balance between reassuring parents and an ongoing investigation has been a balance.  Scott said if Krista has any feedback as parent rep, to please let him know.  Krista feels parents will have different opinions as to the levels of communication. 

o   Jennifer remarked that students’ reactions to this situation have ranged from frantic to angry and also those who have expressed their appreciation for the additional steps that have been taken to ensure their safety. 

o   Brent asked if emergency drills are done on a regular basis; Scott said yes. 

*      Teachers Representative (Jennifer Butcher):


Committee Reports:

*      Education Committee

*      Buildings and Grounds Committee

o   Greg and Nancy did a walk-through of the campus before the meeting and as always, the grounds look incredible.  Scott reported that the sewer line project went perfect and finished ahead of time.  Rob is applying for a grant that would enable the WSSB to add an additional solar application on top of Irwin. 

*      Management Committee

o   Janet will contact Nancy and Berl regarding Scott’s evaluation.

*      Legislative Committee

o   Berl said there hasn’t been a need yet for the committee to meet. Berl felt the two more important areas that may need attention would be the licensed clinical social worker position and the new transition building.  Scott reported that currently WSSB contracts with a social worker and has a school psychologist however WSSB is seeking, through decision package, a clinical social worker.  The DSB is aware that the WSSB is seeking funding for a transition center.  The DSB will be consulted if the project moves forward regarding design input. 

o   Scott anticipates that he may be called to present to the House Education Committee.  The committee was on site in September and remarked that they would like him to return during session. 

o   Brent asked if we have met with the Center for Change in Seattle for outcome data relating to the transition building project.  Scott said the current program is housed on the third floor of Old Main and the goal is that we want the ‘center’ to be a more real-world situation with apartments, etc.  The WSSB was given $50,000 for a feasibility study and the recommendation was to demolish the current building (Ahlsten) and build a new one.  All transition services would be located in that building (DSB, LIFTT, Youth Services Specialist, etc.).  If the new building goes forward, the third-floor rooms will be available for families who visit the WSSB for IEP meetings, etc.



*      Nancy thanked Janet for recognizing staff and Board members for Veterans Day.

*      Nancy would love to make WSSB a center for excellence for STEM.  Scott would like to keep talking about this. 

*      Greg said last Friday, Pam Parker, WSSB’s Director of Outreach/State Vision Consultant and area TVI’s were at the Spokane Lighthouse for the Blind for their regional TVI round-up. 

*      Greg also stated that a young girl saw Greg and his guide dog and told him that her school celebrated White Cane Awareness Day. 

*      Keri said in Bellingham, they learned about Guide Dogs through a presentation.  A former LIFTT student, Jake Koch, is the representative for Guide Dogs for the Blind. 

*      Reg asked if the recent election results in the legislature have or would have an impact. Marci said she found an article by King 5 that broke down the state senate and state legislature.  Marci said if he wants a breakdown, that is a good article and resource. 


Executive Session

An executive session was called to order at 1:22pm and adjourned at 2pm.


There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 2pm.  The next Board meeting will be held on January 16 at 7:30pm via conference call.




Nancy McDaniel, Chair                                                                 Scott McCallum, Superintendent



Board Reports – November 2018



Outreach is off and running for the school year.

·         WSSB Outreach Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVIs) and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (O&M) are currently serving 53 school districts and about 185 students across the state.

·         Joe Dlugo has been chosen to be the new Mentor for the Stephen F. Austin Visual Impairment (VI) endorsement program in Washington State. This position needed to be filled after Pam became the Director of Outreach.

·         Pam attended the Council of Schools and Services for the Blind (COSB) Forum and American Printing House for the Blind (APH) Annual meeting. She also visited the Tennessee School for the Blind (TSB) and met with her counterpart at TSB to discuss how Outreach services are provided in Tennessee.

·         The COSB Outreach Forum will be held at WSSB on April 30-May 3, 2019. Outreach Directors from across the country will come to WSSB to discuss issues related to serving blind and visually impaired (BVI) students.

·         TVI Round-Ups around the state will be held in Pasco on 10/30/18, Spokane 11/2/18, Renton 11/26/18, and Tumwater 12/10/18. At this time, we have close to 150 people signed up for the different events.

·         Statewide Unified English Braille (UEB) Committee meeting was held on 10/15/18. Discussed how recertification will be done and using online modules for assessment. Holly Lawson, coordinator of the Visually Impaired Learner Program at Portland State University (PSU) has an app that may work but needs to be tested for accessibility.

·         October 12 was Outreach’s first team meeting in Tumwater. Topics included new technology demonstrated by Bruce McClanahan, sharing of new materials by Outreach teachers, and Teacher/Principal Evaluation Program (TPEP) evaluations.

·         Pam has been in contact with Mike Sivill to possibly do another statewide UEB online class.

·         Pam attended the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) of Washington conference in Olympia October 26-28.

·         Beginning to meet with Outreach teachers to do evaluations.

·         November 13 a group of developers from Microsoft will visit WSSB, see students using technology and discuss with us about how TVIs learn and use technology with our students. Bruce McClanahan will join us for this meeting.



On Campus

Student Leadership and Social-Emotional Development

Each Wednesday, students participate in Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Leadership. SEL leadership time is coordinated by Jennifer Langley, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and with the support of WSSB’s counselor Billie Jo Thomas and teaching assistants.  These SEL Leadership Wednesdays have given students an opportunity to learn more about themselves, practice strategies that foster a greater sense of belonging and connectedness to the school. SEL is linked to academic success and is a critical element of leveraging skill development in Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) areas.


Student Safety

Student safety at WSSB has been a critical focus on campus.  Recently, some students received harassing messages and some threats through social media, text, and email.  In response to threatening messages, WSSB took safety measures to ensure students were safe in the buildings and they had supervision while traveling. The threats to a student occurred for four days and then stopped once law enforcement became more involved in the investigation.  Vancouver Police Department’s Major Crimes unit has collaborated with school officials to address the situation and put an end to the source of these messages. 


Goalball Team at National

WSSB’s goalball team has a boys and girls team participating in the High School Goalball Championships at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.  This event draws teams from across the nation to compete over several days alongside their teammates.  For some of our students, this will be their first time competing in nationals.  This is the first time since 2015 that WSSB’s boys' team will compete in nationals. 


Assessing for Learning

All of our new students were assessed in many areas of the ECC and academic areas. All students at WSSB participated in Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP) reading assessment and the DESSA. MAP is administered several times throughout the school year to monitor progress and adjust instruction to address targeted areas of need. DESSA is an assessment focused on social-emotional learning.  It is well researched and is also administered several times throughout the school year to monitor student growth and areas of need.  The Wednesday leadership activities are directly tied to the DESSA results and need areas for supporting student growth. 


Other Fall Highlights

Short courses - Cane Camp for O&M, Tech Mania: supporting Google or JAWS.

Camp Magruder - Three-night science-based camp hosted at the Oregon coast.

White Cane Day - Proclamation made by the City of Vancouver May, Anne McEnerny-Ogle



Transition Services

Learning Independence for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT)

·         The program has six participants currently with one more scheduled to come by the end of October.

·         Four participants are attending Clark College.

·         Two participants are working on Job Readiness activities. One has recently signed on with a Job Development Specialist who will assist with job readiness skills and job placement.

·         All participants have spent the fall months learning to manage their time and schedules, live and work with roommates, and travel skills for independence.


Health Center

·         New hire of Daphne Anderson as an on-call RN

·         Dental van will be on campus again November 15

·         Blood Drive November 26

·         Nurse Justine attended Camp Magruder

·         Health center and fitness department worked together to provide a fall wellness program for staff


Youth Service Specialist (YSS)

·         Contract coordination of WorkForce South West Washington’s Partners in Careers (PIC) program at WSSB.  This school year’s classes began, for 6 WSSB juniors and 4 seniors, on September 14, 2018.  Students will have the opportunity to participate in weekly soft skills classes on campus, and a variety of job readiness skills workshops in the community.  PIC is developing a 3-part job shadow model for the juniors.  The model includes informational interviews, hands on work tasks and student provided education about blindness skills for a variety of job shadow hosts.  Seniors will participate in school year volunteer internship experiences.

·         1:1 pre-ETS services for WSSB students and LIFTT program participants as needed, identifying resources for work readiness skills training, completing career interest assessments and resumes, and providing guidance for paid and volunteer job search activities. 

·         YSS met with the new WorkForce Southwest Washington Emerging WorkForce Committee Chair on September 20, 2018, to discuss YSS’s continued contribution to the committee in providing information about the employment support needs of blind and visually impaired youth in the community. Participated in the committee’s first meeting under new leadership on October 2, 2018 at the new youth employment services HUB in Vancouver called NEXT. 

·         YSS met with a potential community rehabilitation provider on September 27, 2018 who has an interest in providing group youth services in the areas of workplace readiness skills - including a professional appearance workshop.

·         YSS met with ESD 112’s Summer Works Program Coordinator on September 18, 2018, to discuss the eligibility for Clark county youth who are on IEPs and 504 plans for professional development training classes and paid internships. 

·         YSS presented information about Department of Services for the Blind’s (DSB) pre-employment transition services (pre-ETS) and Order of Selection (OOS) procedures at the WSSB Outreach staff meeting in Tumwater on October 2, 2018.

·         Multiple planning meetings in September and October 2018, with DSB youth services staff, to discuss pre-ETS provision during OOS - new systems and procedures. 

·         Participation in DSB Pizza and Pups workshop in Chehalis on September 25, 2018 and NFBW’s Consumer Convention youth track on October 27-28, 2018

·         Attended WorkForce Southwest Washington sponsored Manufacturing Recruiters Panel October 24, 2018



Business Office

1.      2017-18 Operating & Capital Budget

        Operating:  September books closed with a negative balance due to teacher increases being effective September 1.  WSSB did not receive sufficient funding for the 21.5% increase to make salaries commensurate with Vancouver School District wage scale.  We have submitted a supplemental decision package for the variance in funding.


        Capital:  As noted in my last report, we are still underspending due to the window of opportunity being so small for us to get projects completed.  However, some major work has been completed:  re-roofing of cottages, parking lot sealcoating and the sewer line project that has faced delay after delay was finally completed.


2.      2019 Supplemental Budget Requests

Following is the summary of the request we submitted: 


McCleary Salary Adjustments

RCW.72.40.028 mandates WSSB pay its certificated staff salaries commensurate with the school district in which the program or facility is located.  In this case, Vancouver School District (VSD).  In September 2018, local unions ratified union contracts which included a 21.5% increase to the wage scale.  In addition, an unintended consequence of compensation compression between certificated staff and administrators occurred.  Additional funding of $715,926 is requested to fully fund certificated salaries commensurate with VSD and maintain the spread between certificated staff and administrators. 


3.      Performance Measures - we reported on the following measures for quarter ending September 2018:

#1585 Percent of WSSB high school students enrolled in online classes: 0%

#1586 Braille Distributed on time:  95%

#1590 Pages of Braille Transcription:  180,193

#1591 Training opportunities accessed by individuals:  10,446

#1592 Number of teachers/paraprofessionals taking Braille exams:  33

#1593 Number of students on campus:  72

#1594 Off-Campus Services:  905


4.      One Washington

As stated in my last report, the state is replacing its aging administrative systems and related business processes. Consequently, as the state moves along in the process, agencies are tasked with additional work.  Business office staff was in Olympia a significant amount of time in October for mandatory training.  Thanks to everyone for their support and patience as we progress through the process.



Human Resources

New Hires:  

·         On-call Teachers Aide (TA), Residential Life Counselor (RLC) and Substitute Teacher - Jessica McAlexander

·         On-call TA and RLC - Tandra Lamke

·         On-call TA and Substitute Teacher - Rebecca Robinson

·         On-call Custodian - Florence Scott

·         Custodian 1- Brian Baltazar


Open Recruitments:

·         On-call Teacher’s Assistant

·         On-call RLC

·         On-call Nurse

·         Substitute Teacher


Trainings/Functions Attended:

·         HR Managers Meeting – Facilitated by Franklin Plaistowe and Marcos Rodriguez

·         Labor Relations Roundtable – Facilitated by Office of Financial Management (OFM)

·         Safe Schools Task Force



Ogden Resource Center (ORC)

Fall is a time for learning and ORC staff had the opportunity to attend conferences this fall.


Jennifer attended the APH Meeting and Braille Prison Forum in Kentucky. Information about various prison programs was shared and new APH products were displayed. In addition, an update on Quota Funds and number of students registered was shared. The final Quota Fund allocation per student has not yet been determined. With the decrease in number of eligible students due to permission slips not being turned in, it is expected that the allocation per student will increase although overall allocations for many states will be decreased due to lower student counts.


Kandi and Adrienne attended the National Braille Association professional conference in Detroit. Topics covered included Nemeth with UEB, Diving Deeper into UEB and Formats with Nemeth. Braille updates from NBA are shared with the transcribers at the prison.


In November, Kandi will be attending the annual Lean conference and continue to apply Lean principles at the ORC.


At the prison, two more transcribers successfully earned their national literary certification for UEB. We currently have 12 nationally certified transcribers, 7 music transcribers, 5 Nemeth transcribers and 6 Textbook Formatting transcribers. Additionally, 2 transcribers also have their literary proofreading certification. An additional 4 transcribers are working on their literary certification and an additional 4 are studying braille and working on tactile graphics. All transcribers are working on multiple textbooks for the 2018-2019 school year. Some textbooks have been completed for the school year and another 69 are still in progress. In addition, the WCCW transcribers are working on quick turn-around jobs and production of multiple copies.



Buildings and Grounds


·         All exterior lighting on the Irwin School building were converted to LED lights. The original 75-watt wall units are now adjustable 55-watt packs with a more natural daylight color.

·         Inspections by the fire marshal, county bio-swale and city backflow devices all took place in the past two months. Only two, easily corrected, items were noted by the fire marshal. The bio-swale behind Chapman Cottage required considerable rework but we were able to do the work in house. We are still waiting for a repairperson to correct the backflow items.

·         We have had a local tree service on campus twice to assist in landscaping. Work included thinning and reducing overall sizes of most of the trees and shrubs around Old Main and at the southeast gate. This is work that we are not staffed for or equipped to do in house.

·         Vancouver City Police conducted an onsite review of campus site security. They noted that our fencing and lighting was a good deterrent for general safety and recommended that we keep up our program of reducing hiding spots by opening the landscaping more.

·         We are in the process of applying for a matching grant to add another solar array on the roof of Irwin. The Department of Commerce is offering grants to schools and state agencies with a mid-December deadline. If successful, we will add another 10 kilowatts of production to our existing 23kW array.



·         The sewer line project was completed ahead of schedule. The contractors allocated up to four weeks for the project but because of good weather and no major obstructions, they finished in two weeks. The two remaining lines that will need to be addressed in the future are the replacement of the line from Hall Cottage to the Watson intersection and the Old Main line serving the west side of the building.

·         We are working with the state’s job order contractor to expand our door access control system. The current card reader software is beyond life expectancy and is no longer supported and the hardware is no longer readily available for repair parts. With the proposed project, we will add door readers to all interior gym doors used by rental groups and change the main entry door locking mechanisms from a pin to a magnetic lock system. We will also add card access to all Old Main third floor bedrooms as well as the warehouse, greenhouse and kitchen.

·         We are in the process of adding a campus wide emergency notification system and recently met with the Alertus representative to finalize the purchasing and equipment plan. This system, once activated, will send notifications to all registered phones in voice or text, push notifications to all network computers, voice, text and flashing light warnings to strategically located annunciator boxes and a voice notification horn for general exterior warning.




The Birth to 3 Program at WSSB continues to grow! Referrals are a weekly occurrence and our Early Intervention (EI) Visual Impairment Specialists (Birth to 3 TVI’s) are very busy!  There really is no new news since the last Board Report in September, except DeEtte had the first of many conversations with the Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) program within the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DYCF) on a coordinated, statewide contract.  It was a great conversation about the state of EI services for our children under the age of 3, including the growth we have experienced at WSSB, our partnerships with EI agencies and TVIs around the state, and especially our need for equity of access no matter where children and their families live in the state. We have more work to do, but this is the perfect time as the DCYF/ESIT program is in the middle of a systems redesign, including a funding restructure that involves moving OSPI funding to DYCF to align with authority. DeEtte is partnering with Kris Ching from the Center for Childhood Deafness and Hearing Loss (CDHL) and Katie Humes from the Deaf Blind Project at Washington Sensory Disabilities Services (WSDS), along with DCYF/ESIT, in this endeavor.  Stay tuned for more updates as these conversations continue.


Other statewide activities DeEtte is engaged in includes the Personnel and Training Committee, a sub-committee of the State Interagency Coordinating Council.  There are 2 taskforces she is working on within this sub-committee; 1) Professional development and 2) Qualifying conditions. This important statewide work keeps the needs of our littlest ones with BVI in the forefront as the system for EI is improved across the state. 




Each month I will provide, in bulleted format, a list of the more significant activities of the Superintendent’s office.  For each month, I will describe a highlight or two in more detail. If at any point you would like more 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 students who are blind or visually impaired throughout Washington State.



September 25:          Preconstruction Meeting (Sewer Line)

September 25:          Conference call with Seattle Public Schools-Vision Services, and Pam Parker, Director of Outreach/Statewide Vision Consultant, regarding Orientation & Mobility services

September 26:          Attended the NWABA Vision for Opportunities fundraising breakfast

September 27:          Conference call with Professor Andy Stefik regarding Experience Programming in Quorum presentation at the COSB Leadership Institute

September 27:          Conference call with OFM Budget Analyst, Cynthia Hollimon regarding supplemental budget requests


I was pleased to learn that our teachers will be receiving a much-deserved salary increase as a direct result of the bargaining efforts in Vancouver Public Schools (VPS).  While the teachers are receiving a significant raise, unfortunately, the raise does not allow for salaries that align perfectly with their peers in VPS.  This issue is largely due to the inclusion of a separate Time, Responsibility, and Incentive (TRI) salary schedule in the VPS compensation package. TRI pay is supported through local levy dollars, a funding base not accessible to a state agency such as WSSB. Many years ago, the Washington State Supreme Court addressed this matter for teachers at both WSSB and WSD and concluded that such funding is not available to the state schools.  Many teachers at WSSB have expressed their concerns about this matter.  I support the viewpoint of our teachers related to this matter and have shared their concerns and my support with our assigned budget analyst from the Office of Financial Management (OFM). Due to the significant increase of the base salary rate, WSSB has requested additional funds to address the anticipated shortfall in our budget. Additionally, we have requested funds to address the subsequent salary compression for administrators caused by the significant increase in teacher salaries. 



October 2:                Visit the Tennessee School for the Blind with Pam Parker and Sean McCormick, Director of On-Campus Programs

October 3:                Attend the annual Council of Schools and Services for the Blind (COSB) Institute

October 4-6:            Attend the annual American Printing House for the Blind (APH) meetings

October 8:                Visit and tour the Camas School District

October 9:                Meet with James Kice, Clark County Historical Museum to review items in WSSB’s museum

October 10:              Kiwanis Club Presentation

October 10:              Panelist for Portland State University (PSU) doctoral students

October 12-13:        Washington State University (WSU) Field Based Superintendent’s Certification Program

October 15:              National White Cane Day Awareness Activities (Mayor Anne McEnery-Ogle keynote)

October 18:              Conference Call – Access for All

October 18:              Tour and information meeting with Capital Budget Analyst, Derrell Jennings             

October 24:              Dinner with the students in Watson Cottage

October 28-31:        Accreditation Committee – Perkins School for the Blind, Boston, MA



October always seems like one of the busiest months of the year. I look forward to the wonderful opportunity to meet, connect and learn from my peers representing a variety of schools for the blind at the COSB and the APH for the Bind Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. At this year’s COSB Leadership Institute, I had the opportunity to present alongside Dr. Stefik from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) to the COSB membership about computer science for students who are BVI. Dr. Stefik focused on the nuts and bolts of accessible computer science principles while I highlighted our efforts at WSSB.  Currently, WSSB is the only school for the blind in the country to offer a Computer Science Principles (CSP) course aimed at preparing students to complete the AP CSP exam available through the College Board.


When traveling to conferences or meetings such as COSB/APH, attending WSSB staff are encouraged to schedule a visit to another school for the blind. Our goal is to learn about their school, programs, and services as well as form a more collegial relationship with our peers.  This year, we visited the Tennessee School for the Blind (TSB) in Nashville, TN in route to Louisville for COSB/APH.  While visiting TSB I was joined by our Director of On-Campus Programs, Sean McCormick, and Pam Parker, Outreach Director, from WSSB.  We spent about four hours at the Tennessee School for the Blind meeting with a variety of persons to learn about and observe their programs.  While at COSB, I was nominated to join to the COSB Board of Directors, a position later confirmed by a vote of the membership.  APH requested my participation on their Education Products Advisory Council, also a position that was confirmed by a vote of the Ex-Officio Trustees from each represented State. 


WSSB also celebrated the National White Cane day on October 15 with an official proclamation from Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnery-Ogle to our students and staff.  Students participated in a variety of activities to celebrate the white cane and practice skills of independence in a fun and engaging way.



November 1:             COSB Board Meeting

November 2-3:         Washington Council of the Blind Convention – Seattle, WA

November 6:             State Board of Education Visit

November 7:             Washington Sensory Disability Services Meeting (WSSB Campus)

November 7:             COSB Board Meeting

November 8:             Meeting with Brent Stark, WSDS Executive Director and Rick Hauan, Center for Childhood Deafness and Hard of Hearing Loss (CDHL)

November 9:             Clark County Superintendent’s Meeting – ESD 112

November 9:             Board of Trustees Meeting (WSSB Campus)



Connecting with our stakeholders is always a pleasure for me.  Unfortunately, this year I had to miss the Washington NFB Convention due to my commitment to participate on the Accreditation Committee for the Perkins School for the Blind near Boston, Massachusetts. Pam Parker attended in my place and presented to the membership, along with Corey Grandstaff, an update on WSSB.  I did have the wonderful opportunity to represent WSSB at the Washington Council of the Blind’s Annual Convention.  WSSB has many friends, board members, as well as current and former students who are connected with one or both of these consumer groups. Attending both NFB and WCB is always a wonderful learning experience and a great time to build relationships with their respective members.


Finally, WSSB will welcome the Washington State Board of Education to our campus in early November.  The State Board plans to tour the campus and will hold their board meeting in the Fries Auditorium.  I will  share our amazing campus and programs with them, and will highlight our efforts specific to the Social and Emotional Learning of our students.  WSSB has implemented the use of a research-based assessment of social and emotional competencies that focuses on student strengths rather than deficits.  We are evaluating the needs of our students and implementing tiered levels of supports to meet the needs of every student. To date, each student has been assessed using the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) and universal level supports have begun.



Department managers and administration team meetings

PFBC meetings

Executive and Small Agency 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

Washington Sensory Disability Services meetings 



While not a highlight, it is important that you are aware of the cyber bullying and harassment that many staff and students of WSSB have been subject to recently.  The language used by this perpetrator has become increasingly threatening.  We have sent out communication to you, the families, and staff in an effort to keep everyone as informed as possible, without jeopardizing the integrity of the ongoing investigation.  At the time of this writing, we are working very closely with local law enforcement (Vancouver Police Department).  Washington State Patrol has also offered support.  The Governor’s Office is aware of this matter and has been supportive of our needs. At this point, we have put into place a variety of increased safety measures to provide and maintain a safe and supportive environment for all students and staff.  That said, this situation has been extremely difficult for many students, their families, and our staff. We will continue to uphold our ultimate obligation and keep everyone safe. If you have specific questions, concerns, or ideas, please do not hesitate to contact me immediately.