March 15, 2019
Board Members Participating: Greg Szabo, Brent Stark, Keri Clark, Reg George, Nancy McDaniel, Dennis Mathews, Lily Clifton and Berl Colley.
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), Jennifer Langley (Director of Curriculum and Instruction), Stephanie Face (Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI), Rob Tracey (Facilities Manager), Joseph Hing (Fiscal Analyst), and Janet Kurz (recording secretary).
March 15, 2019 – 9:00-11:15am
Nancy called the meeting to order at 9am.
Approve board meeting minutes of January 16, 2019. Keri moved to approve the minutes as submitted; Greg seconded the motion. The minutes were approved unanimously.
Advisory Discussion – Inclusion, Stephanie Face, TVI
Scott stated that five WSSB teachers are now Nationally Board Certified (Steve Lowry, Stephanie Face, Jesse Bolt, Colleen Johnson and Carrie Tanner). Perpetual plaques were created for the Old Main and Irwin buildings and individual plaques were also created for each teacher. Scott then introduced Stephanie Face. Stephanie met with Scott to let him know that she would like to present to the Board regarding inclusion. Scott read the Bylaws pertaining to the Board of Trustees that relate to the Board’s duties relating to courses of study and recommendations.
Stephanie stated that staff in the education department have been discussing the opportunity to have a new program at the WSSB. Currently, WSSB has a mostly academic/ECC program. There is a small percentage of students in career skills and life-readiness programs. Students in life skills programs require a special type of education that WSSB currently does not offer. Stephanie felt there was an opportunity for the WSSB to be a model program for students who need additional supports. Students in this program would need life skills such as dressing, bathing, etc. and the goal would be to provide them with dignity and skills to be as independent as possible. Stephanie stated she understands that a program such as this can be costly due to the number of staff required and that currently, WSSB does not have staff who are trained in that discipline. Stephanie also stated that having a program such as this may impact the way the state measures the WSSB programs due to graduation rates.
Scott stated that, currently, WSSB accepts students on a 30-day evaluation period to consider if the WSSB is the proper placement. Recently, WSSB had a situation where a student came to the school for an assessment, and it was determined that WSSB was too restrictive of an environment due to the highly specialized and individualized programming required to provide a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE).
Reg remarked that he attended a blind school in the 1970’s and felt that there are a lot of duplication of services in the current system. Reg feels WSSB is very diverse and doesn’t feel that WSSB is trying to keep students out. Reg feels it always comes down to who can fund these programs and staffing.
Keri asked how this differs from what is already happening in the cottages. Stephanie stated that this is more intensive daily living skills for students who need assistance with bathing, dressing, etc. Stephanie feels that WSSB would need to be very intentional if they were to add this kind of program.
Reg asked what Stephanie’s passion is around this program. Currently, Stephanie is working with middle school level students who are working on early elementary academic skills who will be working towards supported employment and have the potential to be moderately independent. Jennifer remarked that during this school year, Stephanie worked with a student who had higher needs. Jennifer also stated that the WSSB has four local day students who attend PE and other relevant classes, but they are not able to attend full-time due to their level of needs.
Nancy asked if there was a way to survey school districts in the state of Washington to determine what type of need there is for such a program. Scott stated that the WSSB has 53 rooms available for residential students and he feels that we could fill every room. Scott feels every school for the blind in the US deals with this issue. Other schools for the blind, such as Perkins and Texas have a higher percentage of students with higher needs.
Dennis stated he would support the school providing services for the kind of students we are discussing but the resources must come with them. Dennis feels the local districts have to provide support as well. Scott stated WSSB assumes FAPE, so at WSSB, the districts cannot claim the student once they come to the WSSB. Dennis stated it comes down to who is responsible for FAPE. The only students we don’t assume FAPE for is the local students who access limited programs. Scott said there are other variations of this, such as a day program only.
Lily asked if we could point to a program that would be a good model. Stephanie said there are classrooms in school districts that could be used as a model, i.e. a local TVI who just retired, Yolanda McClanahan. Scott said the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) has a great program. Brent suggested that if people are interested in learning more, the education committee could learn more information, contact the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), and other programs and states to see what they do and bring this back to the Board.
Jennifer Langley said historically, WSSB has had programs like this and Jennifer’s first position at the WSSB was a TVI for a life skills program serving students 13-21 years old and that the WSSB did a good and successful job. Jennifer said this can be a high burn-out program. Jennifer said in the cottages, WSSB has a number of students who need intensive daily living skills. WSSB has great Residential Life Counselors who extend the program to the students’ home. If WSSB does have this program, WSSB would need specialist in autism, and special needs. This could cost $500,000 per year in just staffing. This doesn’t include certified highly qualified staff and additional needs for curriculum. Jennifer said she understands where Stephanie is coming from but WSSB must look at each student through their IEP.
Scott said he doesn’t feel that we are going to solve anything today; this is just the beginning of the conversation. Scott does feel we should be more inclusive. Nancy suggested that we readdress this at the September or November board meeting.
Jim remarked that the WSSB looks very different with each decade for a number of reasons such as serving populations due to premature babies, etc. Also, in the late 1970’s, programs looked very different with semi-ambulatory programs. In the mid 1960’s there was a large deaf/blind population. Jim feels the school has not been one thing for any long length of time. Jim said when the school shifts from one thing to another; i.e. higher academic students, or a more multi-handicap population, that it can be a tough transition for staff to make. Jim said it isn’t going to be easy in resources or interpersonal relationships because a lot of people are vested in one type of school.
Marci, Brent, and Stephanie have volunteered to look into this program possibility in the coming months. Scott and Sean will assist as appropriate. Jim suggested that progress reports be made along the way.
Department Highlight – Campus/Facilities Update, Rob Tracey, Facilities Manager:
Rob thanked the Board for inviting him here. Scott stated that Rob has been with the WSSB for 17 years and that the campus looks amazing and is also a very safe, organized, and pristine environment for the students. Rob has placed a key role in this and he is about ready to retire.
Rob remarked that when he walks across campus, he is able to see where he had an impact and influence in almost all areas, including the bell tower, climbing wall, signage, modular building, Stenehjem Fitness Center, etc. Currently, Rob has five major projects he is trying to complete in the next 13 weeks. One of the most important projects is called Alertus, which is an emergency notification system and is the best we have located in many hours of research. This system has the capability to cover staff, students, visitors, and others off campus. It is a push system that disseminates emergency notifications on cell phones, computers and/or any device. The system also has a panic button, flashing lights and read-out boards, vocalized information that can be heard in the buildings and exterior. Marci feels it is great that he was able to find speech output and is totally accessible. This system is being used at the Montana State School for the Deaf and Blind and Gallaudet University, etc. Scott said it was a challenge to find a system as WSSB has a very mobile staff and it must be able to reach all populations. Dennis asked if it is compatible with other systems. Scott said it interacts with School Messenger, Simplex Fire Alarm Systems, etc. Another project Rob is working on is the card reader project which will add key-card readers to rooms on the third floor of Old Main, the Stenehjem fitness center, boiler house, and other exterior entrances. This will enable Janet to schedule and control access much more effectively. For some time, WSSB’s boiler has not met emissions and we have been operating with one boiler for the majority of campus. On April 15 the WSSB will find out if we have been accepted for a grant for a 54 KW solar array on the roof of Irwin; that will furnish 1/3 to 1/2 of the buildings annual energy. Scott said the WSSB has solar arrays on top of Ogden Resource Center (ORC) and playground.
Interviews for Rob’s replacement occurred which resulted in two stellar finalists. One was from an Air Force base with a considerable amount of experience; the other candidate is a mid-level maintenance staff at the Washington State University-Vancouver campus. Rob has no reservations with the finalist that was chosen. The finalist will begin on April 1. Scott and Rob want to have significant overlap with the new person. Rob thanked the board for their support.
Nancy said one request of Scott was to clone Rob. Nancy remarked that her ‘elevator’ speech when it comes to the WSSB is that the campus is beautiful and feels that Rob has had a significant role in the beauty and safety of the campus. The board gave Rob a thank you card and gift for his years of service.
Review/Approve 2019-2020 School Year Calendar:
Last year, Scott committed to work with the teacher’s union regarding the upcoming school year calendar.
There are many considerations when creating the school year calendar, i.e. state requirements (180 school days, 1080 hours of instruction for high school) as well as our goal to align our calendar with the Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) for our students who attend the local high school, and the CDHL to coordinate weekend charter bus transportation. Scott presented the teachers with a blank calendar with the parameters listed above. The teachers reviewed the calendar with their membership and the main concern surrounded the Thanksgiving holiday. Parents were sent a survey regarding the Thanksgiving holiday, registration day, etc. and it was determined that school should be held the week of Thanksgiving. Scott also met with the classified union with the same parameters above. The calendar presented today meets state requirements and aligns with CDHL and VPS. Krista asked about Thanksgiving break; Scott stated that students will travel back on Wednesday and that it is a non-school day. Dennis asked if regional superintendents’ meetings, hosted by the ESD 112, conflict with board meetings. Janet will contact the ESD 112 to get those meeting dates. Brent moved to approve the 2019-2020 school year calendar; Dennis seconded the motion. The calendar was approved unanimously.
Scott shared an article in The Columbian with the Board. On the front page, there is an article and photo of Scott getting hit with a pie in the face. This was the result of students and staff celebrating “Pi” day (3-14). Students and staff who memorized at least 25 digits after Pi got to throw a pie. Five students memorized 50 digits and one student memorized 100. The Columbian was on campus earlier that day to do a story about our music program and stayed for the event.
In January, Scott attended a Northwest Association for Blind Athletes (NWABA) blind hockey event. Scott said he had the best experience of his life in playing hockey in with one of our students from WSSB. It was the first blind hockey experience in Washington and a blind hockey team from Canada participated.
Scott attended the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) leadership conference in Washington DC/Alexandria VA in February with a full leadership track offered. The keynote speaker was Erik Weihenmayer who successful summitted Mt. Everest and many more. Erik also kayaked the Grand Canyon where he almost died. Erik wrote a book about his experiences and Scott has a print version. Also, at the conference, Washington state’s Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib received an award.
David Zilavy was offered and accepted the position of Facilities Manager. He will start April 1, 2019.
WSSB will be hosting the Washington State University’s superintendent cohort program March 15. Fifty people will be attending and Scott will be providing a presentation regarding the school. Keri feels it is so important to have superintendents here and that they know they have options for their students.
Recently, Scott was contacted by a TV producer from Florida from a company called “Information-Matrix”. This will be a short educational documentary type program that will be seen on public television and other networks. There is a cost involved for the agency but is reasonable. This will go on national television over 50 times next year. Scott has approached the schools foundation (Pacific Foundation for Blind Children) to partner with WSSB in this endeavor. As part of the program, there will be an “ask” and the proceeds will be requested to be sent to the PFBC. Scott made the requirement that the piece be closed caption and audio described. The plan is to do the taping on the day of the Lions/WSSB Track Meet (May 16). Scott is hoping that they will interview several blind adults, i.e. Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib, Mac Potts, etc. Scott invited all board members to attend the track meet.
Graduation was pushed back by one week due to inclement weather (June 13).
Washington Council of the Blind (Joleen Ferguson):
o Joleen reported that the WCB has made a number of changes to their website (wcbinfo.org).
o The WCB publishes a quarterly newsletter called the Newsline and Reg is the co-editor. In the most current newsletter, there is an article about a WSSB student who talks about her experiences.
o The Braille Challenge for students took place in Seattle in January. Another event was scheduled for Spokane but was cancelled due to not having enough applicants.
o The WCB spring board meeting will be held on April 7, with a leadership component on April 5-6.
o ACB convention will be held in July 2019 in New York.
o The WCB annual convention will be held October 24-26 at the DoubleTree in SeaTac and is open for members and non-members.
o The WCB is working with the Department of Services for the Blind regarding their waiting list relating to the order of selection. In January, there were 75 people on the wait list for services.
o Information for the WCB’s scholarship program for college students is available on their website (available from March 1-June 1). Any graduating seniors at WSSB are eligible to apply.
o Reg reported that they are hoping to have a youth seminar at the next WCB convention. Reg also reported that they are hoping to have an Easter egg hunt and they are exploring options to get funding for beeper Easter eggs.
National Federation of the Blind (Marci Carpenter):
o Marci reported that the NFB just completed the Braille Readers are Leaders competition for students with several categories. This was the first year that Washington state participated, and two students placed (one from Vancouver and one from the Tri-Cities).
o The NFB of Washington is participating in a national fitness challenge sponsored by the Anthem Foundation and the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA). The challenge targets different markets with activities, monitoring steps, etc.
o Legislatively, the NFB passed HB 1706 relating to the elimination of subminimum wages in the state of Washington. The bill is now going to the Senate.
o On March 15, SB 815 relating to Intro to Access is a bill in congress that would offset the cost of accessible technology. This would provide a tax credit for technology.
o There is also a bill in the House and Senate (nationally) regarding phasing out subminimum wages.
o The NFB’s National convention will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 7-12, 2019 at the Mandalay Bay. The rooms are $99 per night plus tax; 1-4 people in each room.
o The NFB of Washington will not be hosting a Bell Academy this year; there will be one offered in Portland, Oregon.
o The NFB of Washington’s state convention will be held November 1-3 at the Hotel RL in Olympia with youth track activities, programming for parents and a lot of activities.
o Scholarships are available (30 nationally each year) ranging in the amounts of $3,000-$12,000. The applications are available now through the end of March at www.nfb.org.
o High school and college students will be re-starting a student division of the NFB of Washington.
o Scott stated he would like the NFB and WCB to have information tables available at the Lions/WSSB track meet in May of this year.
Teachers (Jennifer Butcher):
o Jennifer reported that this school year is going by fast and spring break is right around the corner.
WSFE Local #1225 (Jim Eccles):
o Jim reported that the WFSE felt that by the time the classified staff are talked to about the next year’s school calendar, it is all but complete. Jim likes the idea that people are getting included sooner in the process.
Parent Representative (Krista Bulger):
o Krista said the parents are busy planning for the upcoming prom, however the seniors aren’t very interested in attending this year. The prom will have a Hawaiian Luau theme.
o The parents are also working on teacher appreciation week.
o The parents group are continuing to work on developing relationships with parents however this can be challenging due to the physical location of parents across the state and in Oregon.
o Krista attended the student’s Cross-Country Ski event. Krista remarked that she has such an appreciation for Adrienne Fernandez, WSSB’s Recreation/Volunteer Coordinator and her efforts with the programs she runs.
o Scott commented that he would also like to see the parents have an information table at the track meet.
o Marci said the education committee will be busy.
o Marci came down Wednesday night and observed classes on Thursday along with fellow board member, Greg.
Buildings and Grounds Committee
o Nancy reported that Rob covered most of the projects occurring on the campus.
o Nancy will be working on the superintendent evaluation. Nancy will draft the evaluation and send it to Berl for his review in late April.
o Dennis reported that there are three bills that could have an impact on the WSSB (HB 1910 relates to the removing of the cap and increasing for funding, SB 5532 concerning para training and SB 5091 concerning state and federal special education funding).
Marci reported that she serves as chair of the DSB state rehab council. Currently, there is a wait list called an “order of selection”. The wait list is now at 100 people. Marci reviewed the parameters regarding the wait list. The DSB has requested funds in the Governor’s budget relating to Adult Vocational Rehabilitation which if approved would eliminate the wait list issue.
Keri reported that she is a parent of a blind child who has albinism and they live in Bellingham. Keri is a part of an organization called NOAH (National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation). Keri is the chair of their silent auction and bowl-a-thon committee and is seeking donations in her community. The event will be May 4, 2019.
Scott reported that WSSB’s former Director of Outreach, Emily Coleman is the finalist for the Superintendent position at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Scott reported that he and Sean McCormick, Director of On-Campus programs are enrolled in the doctoral program through Washington State University.
Nancy suggested that the PFBC be on the next meeting’s agenda (June 13) to provide an update.
Greg reported that a WSSB former student (class of 2018) started her first day of employment at the Lighthouse for the Blind.
Berl wanted to publicly thank Rob for his years of dedication and service to the WSSB.
Nancy stated that the American Legion was founded March 15, 1919 in Paris, therefore today is the 100th anniversary.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:15am. The next Board meeting will be held on May 2 at 7:30pm via conference call.
Nancy McDaniel, Chair Scott McCallum, Superintendent
Board Reports – March 2019
I cannot believe how fast this school year is flying along. We have survived the wild weather and are heading into Spring Break. We have accomplished wonderful things and I am excited to head into the final lap of this school year.
· During November and December, I continued to connect with our Outreach staff on–site to observe the work they are doing with students every day.
· Outreach staff is required to have two observations during the school year. Last year we experimented with video observations and it was very successful. This year we are continuing the same with one face-to-face observation and one video observation.
· One of the Outreach teachers used FaceTime during a lesson for her observation during a home visit. This was very successful and a great way to create a relationship with the teacher, student, and parent.
· The VI Round-Ups were very well received this year with events in Pasco, Spokane, Renton, and Tumwater. (Thank you to Greg Szabo for sharing the Lighthouse with us.) We had well over 200 people attend throughout the state. Next year we will consider adding another VI Round-Up somewhere north of Seattle. The VI Rounds-Ups are a great way to share information and we had presenters from the Ogden Resource Center (ORC), Northwest Association for Blind Athletes (NWABA), Statewide Technology, and Washington Sensory Disability Services (WSDS).
· The Blind Youth Consortium met in December at WSSB. Our next meeting is in April in the Seattle area. We continue to address digital literacy.
· We have been approved for another Stephen F. Austin State University (SFAU) Cohort through the collaboration with WSDS. Our Outreach teacher, Joe Dlugo, will continue to work as a part-time mentor to those students and to Portland State University (PSU) teacher candidates.
· Several Outreach teachers have participated as practicum placements, for Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVI) and Orientation & Mobility Specialists (O&M) through other universities, PSU, University of North Carolina (UNC), and Florida State University (FSU).
· On January 10 we had a Combined Outreach Meeting with WSDS, WSSB and the Washington School for the Deaf (WSD). The training concentrated on working with DeafBlind individuals.
· The Unified English Braille (UEB) Committee continues to meet to support braille competency in WA State. We did not offer a UEB class this year because we did not have someone to teach the class. This was a noticeable gap which will be filled in the fall of 2019 by offering a UEB class, although we are still looking for a teacher.
· I will be attending the Mobility Matters 2019 conference at PSU on March 11. I have also been asked to be a part of their Strategic Planning team for the PSU VIL and O&M programs on March 12.
Our staff is looking forward to attending the Pacific NW/Oregon Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) Conference to be held March 21-23 in Ellensburg, Washington. Continued professional development and collaboration are always a priority for our team.
Total On-Campus: 55 (breakdown: 46 comprehensive students 6- 12 grade; 5 Distance learning; 4 part-time, local and Short Course (year to date): 19).
Several staff members are involved in continuing education supporting their role at WSSB such as TVI and O&M programs. Kim Johnson recently completed the O&M training program through PSU. She is eligible to take the Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist (COMS) exam and add this specialty content area endorsement to her Washington teaching certificate. Kim has been the leader of our theme and community-based instruction for high school students in a class program titled Trails. Kim is also the art teacher at WSSB and can be held responsible for facilitating student artwork displayed around campus.
Five WSSB teachers earned their National Board-Certified Teacher certification this December. Three of the five teachers in the Irwin building and two work in WSSB’s Outreach department. The work that goes into the National Board’s program is intensive and one of the highest level of professional achievements a teacher-leader can earn. The National Board-Certified Teachers are:
Jesse Bolt, On-Campus
Steve Lowry, On-Campus
Stephanie Face, On-Campus
Colleen Johnson, Outreach
Carrie Tanner, Outreach
School Improvement Planning (SIP)
WSSB’s high school was identified by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) Office of System and School Improvement for comprehensive supports due to our low graduation rate. This comprehensive plan of supports is aligned with the Washington state’s consolidated plan for compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). While WSSB is only slightly below the threshold for four-year graduation rates of high school students, there is no intention for WSSB’s programs to begin pushing students into a four-year graduation plan if they need more time to ascertain skills necessary to be ready after high school. The ESSA prioritizes four-year graduation rates as one of its components, which conflicts with individualized student plans that allow Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams to determine the course of study and timeline for graduation within transition plans. The support received from OSPI includes some funding for professional development, coaching, and implementation of improvement efforts aligned to our needs assessment outlined in our School Improvement Plan. This year’s SIP will be completed by May 2019 and will last for two years. SIP’s will be submitted to OSPI and will help direct WSSB’s work around improving programs. Key areas of focus will include, but not limited to, English language learner strategies, mathematics, science, social-emotional learning, and equity and inclusion.
Student Leadership Learning Through SEL
Every Wednesday WSSB students experience an early release from their regular coursework to focus on social-emotional learning (SEL) and leadership. Using data gathered on student strengths aligned to SEL frameworks, students work in dynamic groupings that are student-led, facilitated by student leaders. The growth in leadership, social interaction skills, self-determination, and collaborative practices among students continues to develop and is strengthening WSSB as a community of learners and teachers at all levels.
Updating UEB Books in and Library Partnership
With the help of a grant provided through the Pacific Foundation for Blind Children (PFBC), WSSB’s library in the Irwin building will be adding nearly thirty new books in UEB. This will be the most substantial addition to the library of new books in UEB since Washington’s full transition to using the UEB code in 2016.
Additional support for promoting literacy at WSSB is being offered with a new partnership with the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL). Each month, the youth librarian from WTBBL visits WSSB to offer in-class and library programs. This is the start of the partnership, and the hope is to continue with providing a range of programs for students, especially since every student at WSSB is a patron of WTBBL.
Partnering on Services for Deafblind Students
The WSD and WSSB are in the initial phase of developing a joint referral process that would provide an option for attending a joint WSSB and WSD educational program. This year, we have two students from WSD that attend WSSB for specific goals instructed by a TVI or an O&M specialist.
Learning Independence for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT)
· There are seven participants in the program and two Resident Advisors (RA).
· All participants are engaged in vocational training activities as outlined in their Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Individual Plan for Employment. Four of them are attending Clark College, and three are working with CRP’s (Community Resource Providers, a newer name for “job developer”) in job placement activities: work readiness, informational interviews, assessments, job trials, etc.
· All participants are working on their personal goals for adult independence.
· Both RA’s are attending Clark College and have part time, paid employment at the College.
· We have provided tours to three interested students for the fall program year and have one application.
· Dental van will be on campus again March 14 and April 11.
· Nurse Justine will attend the snowmobile trip and Cross-Country skiing trip.
· Health center and fitness department worked together to provide a February wellness program for staff.
Youth Service Specialist (YSS)
· Coordination of WorkForce South West Washington’s Partners in Careers (PIC) program at WSSB. Six WSSB juniors and four seniors, participate in weekly soft skills classes on campus. YSS conducted four site visits with PIC staff to determine job shadow tasks and possible accommodations. PIC staff continue to work on developing additional sites. Two juniors participated in the first job shadow at the YMCA on January 15, 2019 and reported that their favorite part of the job shadow was having the opportunity to discuss blindness skills and facility accessibility with their hosts. A second set of juniors completed this job shadow on February 6, 2019. Student job shadows will be scheduled, at a variety of locations, including the Boys and Girls Club, Silicon Forest Electronics, and LSW Architects.
· Three of the seniors have begun internships. Placements include shadowing a teacher at Harney Elementary School, day care staff Center Park Daycare and construction staff at Habitat for Humanity. YSS is working closely with PIC staff and the WSSB transition coordinator to develop programs and provide support and education as needed. YSS has been working with the Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) in developing a contract for payroll services to fund wages for the PIC interns who are eligible, using pre-employment transition funds.
· Following a visit at Silicon Forest Electronics, the staff there indicated that they are also interested in providing an internship opportunity for a blind/visually impaired (BVI) youth. A LIFTT student, with a strong interest in computers, submitted his resume for the position and participated in an interview. Historically, Silicon Forest Electronics has provided specialized training for promising interns and has hired several in the past.
· WSSB Career Fair planning – The high school program is scheduled to take place on March 18-19, 2019. Highlights include attendance at the Portland WorkForce Alliance Northwest Youth Career Expo (freshman and sophomores) and job shadow experiences (juniors and seniors). YSS is working to develop some of these job shadow experiences. Several WSSB teachers have been incorporating the Junior Achievement Biz Town curriculum throughout the school year, in preparation for the middle school students’ separate Career Fair experience at Biz Town in Portland on March 26, 2019. YSS will assist in facilitation of this activity.
· Skills Vancouver planning – Skills Vancouver has been scheduled for June 24-28. This year’s theme will be history, national parks and conservation. Applications will be available in March. YSS is assisting in the development of a new Skills camp that will take place in Longview from August 5-9.
· Youth Employment Solutions (YES) 1 planning – YES 1 is scheduled to take place from July 7-18. Sixteen applications have been received to date. Eligibility review will be held on March 14.
1. 2017-19 Operating Budget
Most departments are staying within their allotted budget with the exception of those departments with teacher costs. We are awaiting approval of our supplemental request for the additional funding to comply with the McCleary decision. In Fund 19B, spending is keeping pace with revenue.
2. 2017-19 Capital Budget
We have a few projects to complete before June 30, 2019 that we won’t be able to finish within the window of time we have left. We have requested a $150,000 re-appropriation request for 2017-19 capital funds. Completing a feasibility study to house the LIFTT program was also part of the capital budget. There were some technicalities with the verbiage used in the request that has created issues with the Office of Financial Management (OFM) and Department of Enterprise Services (DES) as to whether the deliverable (feasibility study) meets the funding request/approval. The request speaks to completing a pre-design. However, $50,000 is not sufficient to complete both. DES has consulted with OFM and they have agreed to have DES pay for the additional costs to complete the pre-design. The plan is to have it completed in time for us to submit a first year (2019-21) supplemental request in October 2019 for the design and construction phase.
3. 2019 Supplemental
We submitted a request for $715,926 to fully fund certificated salaries commensurate with the Vancouver School District (VSD) and maintain the spread between certificated staff and administrators and the Governor’s office has recommended approval.
4. 2019-21 Operating and Capital Budget
The legislature is in session and will end on April 28, 2019. So far, we have received and responded to three fiscal note requests. We have responded to requests for additional information and all of our decision package requests have been recommended for funding by the Governor’s office and are moving through the process.
5. Safety Net
We will not be submitting a safety net grant application this year.
6. Fiscal Year-End and 2019-2020 Allotments
We are beginning to prepare for fiscal year-end and allotments for whatever supplemental requests are funded.
7. 2019-21 Budget
Depending on when the budgets are approved, the window can be small from the time the legislature approves them to when allotments are due. So, we are beginning to prepare for them anticipating they will be due early August.
8. Performance Measures
We reported on the following measures for quarter ending December 2018:
#1585 Percent of WSSB high school students enrolled in online classes: 1%
#1586 Braille Distributed on time: 100%
#1590 Pages of Braille Transcription: 38,050
#1591 Training opportunities accessed by individuals: 10,449
#1592 Number of teachers/paraprofessionals taking Braille exams: 21
#1593 Number of students on campus: 64
#1594 Off-Campus Services: (only outreach) 710
9. One Washington
We continue to work on different processes and attend various training and meetings as the state moves forward with implementing One Washington. The state payroll and human resources system (HRMS) was slated to come on board at a later time after implementation of the initial systems of procurement, budget and finance but the state has decided to move them along at the same time. Therefore, implementation of procurement, budget and finance slowed a bit, so the other areas could come onboard.
· Office Assistant – Lisa Rachetto
· On-call Teacher’s Aide (TA), Residential Life Counselor (RLC) and Substitute Teacher - Rebecca Robinson
· On-call Nurse – Daphne Anderson
· On-call TA – Steven Salinas
· On-call TA – Peggy Newell
· Facilities Manager
· On-call Teacher’s Assistant
· On-call RLC
· On-call Nurse
· Substitute Teacher
· HR Managers Meeting – Facilitated by Franklin Plaistowe and Marcos Rodriguez
· Personnel Manager’s Meeting – Facilitated by OFM
· Quarterly Risk Manager’s Forum
· Labor Relations Roundtable – Facilitated by OFM
· Safe Schools Task Force
· HR Manager’s Meeting – ESD 112
Ogden Resource Center (ORC)
The partnership with Correctional Industries (CI) continues to go well and Glen Hutchins is the new CI manager at the women’s prison. James Estep continues in his role as site supervisor for the transcribers and neighboring ProCad team. There are currently 16 transcribers and 6 apprentices in our prison braille program. We may be losing two or more senior transcribers (for at least 18 months) to a new therapeutic program in Yakima.
As of March 1, 2019; 90 braille projects are in process for customers and schools. So far for this school year, 3,651 Instructional Resource Center (IRC) items were shipped to schools for 737 students.
1,876 students are currently registered in ORC Online. Our Census numbers for 2018 decreased dramatically and we lost a significant amount of Quota Funds (approximately $150,000) for this school year. The 2019 Census count for the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) is looking better with 1,445 potentially eligible students with permission slips on file. We are still missing 147 permission slips as of 3/1/2019 which equals approximately $56,000 in Quota Funds.
Buildings and Grounds
Dear Board of Trustees,
As you know this is my final school year working here at WSSB. I want to let you know how profoundly enjoyable it has been for me to work here for the last seventeen years. To have a part in the yearly construction projects and the opportunity to work with such a wonderful group of people has been the high point of my working career. I leave knowing that the campus is in much better condition than when I arrived but also that it is in good hands with my replacement and the staff that have supported me for so long. Thank you for your support and the wonderful opportunity to interact and learn from the blind and deaf communities. This experience has been amazing. ~Rob
· We recently met with contractors to discuss changing all of the fluorescent tube lights in Old Main over to LED’s with occupied sensors in some rooms and dimmer switches in all office spaces. This will allow staff to adjust the light to meet their preferred lighting level and reduce lighting energy consumption by more than half. We have divided this into two priority levels, so we can adjust the project scope to meet available funds.
· We have had a local tree service on campus thinning some of the larger trees. It was discovered that two of these trees had some substantial problems. We were able to stabilize one with cables and rods but the other will need to be removed. We met with the Vancouver city arborist and they agreed that it should be removed. We are now reviewing acceptable replacement trees from the city’s list of approved trees.
· After contacting the state motor pool, we were given permission to purchase a replacement for the 1995 lift van without needing to rent one from them. The new van will hopefully be here before the end of the school year.
· As an upgrade to the maintenance department, we have replaced the twenty-year-old John Deere Gator run-about vehicle with a better equipped Kubota RTV. The new unit is four-wheel drive with a dump bed and twice the carrying capacity of the older one.
· After working with the state contracts personnel, it was determined that the best way to proceed with the addition of the emergency alert system was to go through the states Job Order Contractor system. This will add additional expense but will insure we get the system that has been determined to best meet the needs of staff, students and visitors to campus. No start date has been set for this project yet.
· Addition and replacement of our card reader access system is scheduled to begin March 18. This will replace a system that is no longer supported for software upgrades and no longer offers hardware replacement parts. Estimated time for completion is three to four weeks.
· Because of the number of agencies applying, the announcement date for recipients of the Department of Commerce energy grants was moved to April 15. If chosen, we will add a 54-kilowatt solar array to the roof of Irwin. This will supply one third of the building’s yearly energy needs.
As you know the Birth to 3 Program continues to grow every day, week, and month! As of the end of February, we were providing direct ongoing supports to 66 infants/toddlers and their families through 18 direct service contracts with Early Intervention (EI) agencies (including a few school districts and ESDs) in 15 counties across the state. Every week we get referrals for new kids, of all ages (infants and toddlers) and visual concerns. Our goal is to see those children within 30 days of referral and assist the EI team in determining if ongoing services is needed. In addition to providing direct service to any child referred to us, we are also indirectly educating our EI partners in identifying vision concerns and the impact of visual impairments on early childhood development.
In the last Board Report, DeEtte introduced the work with the ESIT program to develop a statewide contract instead of the individual subcontracts we now have. Unfortunately, that will probably not be a reality this year, as the ESIT program is still in a system’s redesign process and funding shift which will not officially occur until after the current legislative session. Our current subcontracting method of “fee for service” will continue for now and the next fiscal year.
We do have some exciting trainings scheduled for our Early Intervention Visual Impairment Specialists, or EIVIS, who are TVI’s serving the birth to 3 population. That includes our yearly participation in the Infants and Early Childhood Conference (IECC), a statewide conference held in Tacoma each year in May. This year DeEtte will present twice; once on a vision screening tool used by EI teams, and an introduction to neurological visual impairment, the most common form of visual impairment amongst our youngest learners. Also, DeEtte and the WSSB Birth to 3 Program will be hosting a 1-day training for TVIs who teach in early childhood (birth to 5) in June, with an agenda including home visiting tips, implementing active learning approaches, understanding infant mental health, and completing the Babies Count survey.
Each month I will provide, in bulleted format, a list of the more significant activities of the Superintendent’s office. I will also 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 (BVI) throughout Washington State.
January 17: Met with Executive Director of the Oregon Commission for the Blind (OCB)
January 18: Attended ESD 112 Regional Superintendent’s meeting and networking lunch
January 18: Annual PAYDAY assembly sponsored by the PFBC
January 19: Attended NWABA Hockey event-Tacoma
January 22: Participated on conference call with the Office of Financial Management (OFM) regarding impacts of partial federal shut-down
January 23: Participated on Council of Schools and Services for the Blind (COSB) conference call regarding measuring and communicating relating to programs
January 23: Met with nurse, Human Resources Director and Director of On-Campus Programs regarding Clark County measles outbreak (next steps, etc.)
January 24: Met with Director of Outreach, Ogden Resource Center (ORC) Coordinator regarding JAWS (assistive technology) software dissemination/licenses
January 25: Conference call with Superintendent of the California School for the Blind
January 25: Met with Washington State University (WSU)-Vancouver staff regarding a grant for the WSSB museum
January 26: Met with teachers union representatives regarding the draft 2019-2020 school year calendar
January 28: Attended the weekly sub-cabinet legislative meeting relating to education
January 28: Participated on conference call with the OFM regarding impacts of partial federal shut-down
January 29: Met with Procurement staff regarding Strategic Plan facilitators
January 29: Met with WSSB TVI regarding future programming for WSSB students
January 30: Conference call with Texas School for the Blind and WSSB staff regarding the Outreach Forum which will be held on WSSB’s campus in May
January 31: Met with ESD 112 Superintendent to discuss potential partnerships
Last year, I promised to meet with the shop stewards of the teacher’s union to discuss the school calendar in advance of creating and sending out a draft to all staff for comment and review. Informing our school calendar are the requirements for a minimum 180 school days for students and 1080 hours for high school students. Additionally, we aim to align as closely as possible to the school calendar for our sister agency, the WSD because of shared transportation; and to the Vancouver School District for those students participating in coursework at Hudson Bay High School or Discovery Middle School. Finally, the calendar must align with requirements of employee bargaining agreements. The meeting with shop stewards from the teacher’s union included some discussion of past practice, student attendance trends, staff concerns, and potential scheduling options. The shop stewards shared this information with teachers from the Irwin building and suggested that we poll parent opinions. The most discussed area of concern with the Irwin instructors was the school schedule during the week of Thanksgiving and the subsequent impact on the final week of school. We decided to survey parents throughout the month of February, consider this data along with attendance data and other available information before creating a draft calendar for all staff to review. In February, we plan to offer shop stewards from the Washington Federation of State Employees, which represents most staff of WSSB, an opportunity to share input regarding next year’s school calendar. Ultimately, the draft calendar presented to you for review and approval was developed after careful consideration of: data and input from a variety of stakeholders, applicable laws and bargaining agreements, and alignment with Vancouver School District and WSD.
Truthfully, one of the best moments of my life took place this January. Two of my greatest passions in life collided in a weekend Blind Hockey experience in Tacoma, Washington. The NWABA hosted Washington’s first-ever Blind Hockey clinic with the help of Blind Hockey Canada. Sharing my life-long love of hockey with my passion for education of individuals who are BVI was the opportunity of a lifetime. A WSSB student took advantage of the opportunity and we spent four hours together skating, passing, shooting, laughing, and having fun. It was a special moment that I will remember forever. Thank you to NWABA, Blind Hockey Canada, and to the many parents, grandparents, and others who made this opportunity possible.
February 4: Attended the weekly sub-cabinet legislative meeting relating to education
February 4: Met with Procurement staff, Director of Business and Finance and Facilities Manager regarding emergency alert system
February 4: Met with Director of Outreach, Birth-3 Coordinator and Director of Business and Finance regarding Outreach contract rates for school districts and service centers
February 4: Met with Residential Program Supervisor regarding Final Quarter Spending Plan (FQSP)
February 5: Met with the Director of Curriculum and Instruction regarding WSSB’s Equity Committee
February 5: Met with Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) representatives regarding the draft 2019-2020 school year calendar
February 7: Participated on COSB board meeting - conference call
February 11: Participated on conference call with the OFM
February 12: Online procurement training required by the state of Washington
February 14: Online procurement training required by the state of Washington
February 15: Met with members of the Washington Public Employees Association (WPEA) union regarding change in current school year calendar due to weather
February 15: Met with Board Chair, Nancy McDaniel to discuss upcoming board meeting
February 15: Met with Executive Director of the PFBC regarding upcoming board meeting
February 19: Conference call with potential Strategic Plan facilitator
February 19: Attended the Executive/Small Agency Cabinet meeting
February 20: Provided a tour of the WSSB campus for a visiting Optometrist from China
February 20: Attended a webinar regarding Washington state’s new Budget, Procurement and HR system “One Washington”
February 21: Hosted three Listening Sessions throughout the day for WSSB staff
February 23: Attended the annual NWABA fundraising event
February 25: Attended the weekly sub-cabinet legislative meeting relating to education
February 25: Met with WFSE Representative regarding draft 2019-2020 school year calendar
February 26: Conference call with potential Strategic Plan facilitator
February 28: Attended American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Leadership conference - Virginia
As you are aware, a significant snowstorm blanketed much of the state in early February. The impact in Vancouver was much less impactful. Most local districts remained open throughout the week. Because of this, I decided to keep WSSB operational and open for our local students. It was determined to be too risky and potentially unsafe for families to travel to airports or charter bus pick-up locations north of Olympia and east of the Cascades. This resulted in less than one-half of WSSB students being able to attend school for an entire week. Supplemental educational services and tutoring were provided to all local students able to attend school and local student transportation was provided. Due to this weather-related issue and the impact on most students of WSSB, the decision was made not to include the week in the school-day calculation for the year, effectively adding one week to the current school calendar in order to meet the 180-school day requirement without an approved waiver from OSPI. While the option for a waiver from the school day requirement was an option this year, it was determined not in the best interest of all students who attend WSSB. The budgetary impact is manageable within currently available resources as we close out the biennium. This calendar change has been shared with all impacted staff and parents.
Throughout the legislative session, I continue to attend Monday morning Education Sub-Cabinet meetings. These weekly meetings include representation of agency’s with a connection to education, as well as a variety of policy and administrative staff from the Governor’s office. The meetings allow cross-agency discussion and collaboration, as well as communication directly from the Governor’s office. As of the writing of this report, no current proposed legislation is expected to have significant impact on WSSB.
March 1-2: Attended AFB Leadership conference-Virginia
March 4: Attended the weekly sub-cabinet legislative meeting relating to education
March 4: Conference call with Lori Singer, Senior TV producer
March 4: Interview finalists (2) for Facilities Manager position
March 6: Provided tour of campus for Pacifica Senior Living tenants
March 7: Attended Washington Sensory Disability Services (WSDS) meeting – Renton, WA
March 8: Attended Clark County Superintendents meeting
March 11: Attended the weekly sub-cabinet legislative meeting relating to education
March 11: Met with HR Manager regarding Volunteer background checks
March 13: Access for All conference call
I had the opportunity to travel to the American Foundation for the Blind’s annual Leadership Conference in Alexandria, Virginia. This conference generally has tracks specific to leadership, rehabilitation/transition, research and personnel preparation programs. I followed the leadership track of session options. I appreciated the opportunity to learn from and with colleagues from other state schools for the blind from around the country. The keynote speaker at this year’s conference was Erik Weihenmayer. Erik has summited each of the Seven Summits, each Continent’s highest peak. After his well-documented summit of Mount Everest many years ago, he was challenged by a friend to “Not make this (summiting Everest) the greatest thing he ever did.” Erik spoke about his many adventures including a riveting description and multi-media presentation about his recent kayak trip down the Grand Canyon, a remarkable adventure. A true adventurer, Erik is now helping others reach beyond what they or others might think possible, helping individuals with disabilities participate in adventure and exploration activities and sports. If you are interested in learning more about Erik and his adventures, he has authored several books documenting his experiences. Washington Lt Governor Cyrus Habib was present and honored for his Leadership at the AFB Gala event immediately preceding the conference.
Rob Tracey, WSSB’s long-term Buildings and Operations Manager, has announced his upcoming retirement planned for the end of this school year. The position has been posted and search efforts for Rob’s replacement are underway. Earlier in the year, Rob and I collaborated on a transition plan that would allow ample overlap and time to complete necessary state trainings, guided familiarization and collaborative work, independent practice, mentorship, and support for the new person. The posting generated an encouraging abundance of interest from a strong group of candidates. A screening and interview process has resulted in two finalists. I have conducted individual interviews with each candidate and made efforts to connect with each of the finalists listed references. I expect to make a final decision within one week of the March Board meeting and extend an offer to our primary candidate.
Meetings with department managers and administration team
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
Same as January update. Today, however, is the day. As many of you know, I am enrolled in a doctoral program in Educational Leadership that includes a Superintendent-specific training program. I have just completed my first nine credits and have truly enjoyed the coursework, its application to my work on a regular basis, and the comradery with my classmates. Sean McCormick, WSSB Director of On-Campus Programs, also is enrolled in the doctoral program. This program, offered through Washington State University, is one of the premier training programs for Superintendents in Washington State. Shauna Bilyeu, Superintendent from the WSD, is also enrolled in this program. Shauna and I have offered to host this program at WSD and WSSB each year when they routinely have their class in Vancouver. WSU program leadership have agreed to have the March classes at WSSB/WSD this year and beyond. Both Shauna and I will be provided an opportunity to share about our school/programs to nearly 50 school leaders and potential Superintendents each year. I am so excited to take advantage of this opportunity to share WSSB with educational leaders from across the state.