WASHINGTON STATE SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
June 1, 2018
Board Members Participating: Greg Szabo, Dennis Mathews, Michelle Farrell, Keri Clark, Yang-su Cho, Reg George and Berl Colley.
Board Members Absent: Nancy McDaniel, Cindy Bennett and Ed Snook.
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), Lori Pulliam (Director of Transition Services), and Janet Kurz (recording secretary).
June 1, 2018 – 12pm
Dennis called the meeting to order at 12pm. The group started by introducing themselves.
Approve board meeting minutes of May 3, 2018. Michelle moved to approve the minutes as submitted; Yang-su seconded the motion. The minutes were approved unanimously.
Department Update – Learning Independence for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT) Program:
Lori provided the Board a brief history of how the LIFTT program came into existence. Years ago, a 5th year program existed which was an independent living program for high school seniors. Lori observed that students trying to get through high school and also learn independent living skills was a challenge. Lori was asked to create a similar program called “LIFTT” and it has been in existence for 14 years.
LIFTT students apply to be accepted at the end of their senior year. The program is intended for young adults, 18-24 years old, who would like to learn skills of adult independence. They come to the LIFTT program through the Department of Services for the Blind (DSB). Acceptance into the program is a team decision between DSB, the student and WSSB LIFTT. Students can either be in a secondary education program or going to work. Students have to shop, cook and clean and DSB staff receive quarterly progress reports. At the beginning of the course there are basic budgeting classes, cooking tips, etc.
Scott asked if there is any outcome data for students who have participated in LIFTT. Lori stated that a survey is done one-year post LIFTT program. The data shows a 90% success rate (i.e. working towards vocational goal or employed).
Reg asked how many staff it takes to run the program and what there is in the way of academic supports if they run into trouble if they are going to college. Reg said he has heard from his DSB counselors and students that they didn’t get the math support when entering the program and they also lack math and braille skills after high school. Lori said the LIFTT program encourages students to use resources that they will always have available to them to problem solve. The educational piece is a difficult one, depending on what the students’ needs are and DSB provides a lot of that support. If the student is enrolled in Clark College, they have a wonderful disabilities support program. Reg feels that we all have to be a part of the student’s success. Regarding staffing, there is a day-shift, swing shift and graveyard staff. There is also one staff member who works a 10-hour shift on Saturday and Sunday. LIFTT also has a Resident Advisor, which is a former successful LIFTT participant from the year before. Reg asked if the LIFTT program occurs over the summer; Lori said no.
Reg stated the DSB counselors were hoping that students could receive more supports while in the LIFTT program. Dennis suggested that students’ with visual impairments academic deficits may not have been recognizable upon exiting high school.
Keri feels that the LIFTT program is very important.
Reg said on a federal level, funding is going towards youth and transitional students and he feels there are people who are falling through the cracks. Lori said part of their job is to help the student learn to locate the appropriate supports, whether it is from Hadley, DSB, etc.
Marci thanked Lori for coming and asked how many students are in the program this year; Lori said three, however there are eight applicants for next year. Marci stated the LIFTT program is not an Orientation and Training Center (OTC) and determining which program to attend is a personal decision.
Joleen asked if there are WSSB students who apply to the program; Lori said normally no, however this year 4 of the 8 applicants are WSSB graduates.
Scott said WSSB is working with the state to build a transition center on campus where the Ahlsten building is. Once we get through the feasibility part of the process, WSSB will work closely with DSB to help design the building.
Berl asked if there was a social component built into the LIFTT program. Lori said social and recreation are currently one of the areas that LIFTT staff have to encourage the students to partake in. Students are required to have a cell phone and a monthly bus pass.
Scott reviewed the following:
Scott discussed a WSSB policy (“Investment Policy) that requires an annual review by the Board of Trustees. The WSSB has a betterment account consisting of funds that were donated by community members. The board must annually consider the state of the investment accounts and goalposts that are within the policy. Scott read part of the policy and also our Attorney General’s opinion regarding Betterment funds. The opinion explained that the funds were not intended to supplant state obligations for the WSSB. There is almost $900,000 in the betterment account; $275,000 are placed in a short-term account meant to be accessed in the case of a financial emergency; the remaining amount ($592,000) is invested in accounts at Edward Jones. Scott reviewed the percentages of where our goals are for the investment accounts. Scott said in every case WSSB is within the goalposts, with the exception of one, which is .1%. Reg asked where the funds were invested and what the management fees are. The funds are invested with Edward Jones and Scott will review with Edward Jones what the fees are. Berl is concerned that with the market fluctuations that the money is safe. Dennis said this is informational to the board and will be presented annually. Marci said for the tiny amount the one fund is over, it may not be worth reinvesting.
Election of Officers
Michelle nominated Nancy as Chair of the Board; Reg seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Greg nominated Berl as Vice Chair; Michelle seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Scott presented a plaque for Dennis for his two-years of service as Board Chair, July 2016-June 2018.
Education Committee: Chair-Michelle Farrell; member Marci Carpenter
Buildings and Grounds Committee: Chair-Nancy McDaniel; member Greg Szabo
Management Committee: Co-Chair-Nancy McDaniel and Berl Colley
Legislative Committee: Chair-Berl Colley; members Reg George, Dennis Mathews, Marci Carpenter, Keri Clark
Scott presented a plaque of appreciation to Yang-Cho for his years of service on the Board. Scott will be delivering Cindy Bennett’s plaque to her on Monday, June 4. Jennifer Butcher delivered Ed Snook’s plaque to him.
Jim encouraged the Board to look at the weekly newsletters from Irwin. All of the events are listed on these newsletters. Jim felt this is a good way to keep up with what is going on.
Joleen said she posted the need for three new board members to the WCB list. Joleen said there is difficulties in finding out which Congressional District they reside in.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 1pm. The next Board meeting will be held on September 21, 2018 at 11am.
Dennis Mathews, Chair Scott McCallum, Superintendent
The 2017-18 School Year is coming to a close, and all of our students and teachers are looking forward to summer. Of course, they are after all they have accomplished this year!
· March 8-9 was spent in Seattle at a Special Education conference. I staffed a booth for the Washington Sensory Disability Services (WSDS) and attempted to recruit teachers into the field of blindness, while educating all who stopped about the services WSDS and WSSB provide.
· March 13 was a Northwest Association for Blind Athletes (NWABA) event in Quincy, WA and Eastern WA Outreach teachers had students in attendance, including one of mine!
· March 22-24 was our annual Pacific Northwest Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (PNWAER) conference held in Vancouver, WA. We had 100% attendance from our Outreach teachers.
· April 5-7 was the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Leadership Conference in Oakland, CA. I attended along with Scott McCallum, superintendent, and a highlight was the discussion surrounding data collection for our population and how to use data to improve services for kids who are blind or visually impaired (BVI).
· In April, we began discussing caseloads for the 2018-19 school year with the districts we already serve. Many of our teachers take on the role of determining service levels and frequency and support me in contract discussions.
· April 15-20 was the Educational Product Advisory Committee meeting at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). I attended as an Ex Officio Trustee, and APH funded all of the travel. It was an excellent opportunity to get a sneak-peek at new products and provide guidance from the field and from the state of Washington.
· April 24–27 was the annual Outreach Director Forum at the Maryland School for the Blind in Baltimore. Over 20 directors attended from around the country and shared program ideas and updates.
· On April 30, Pam Parker and I met with Glenna Gallo at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to review candidates for the Stephen F. Austin TVI program. Eight (8) were selected for funding out of 10 applicants.
· May 8 was the WSDS meeting at WSSB, and discussion contained contract rate increases for Outreach and efficient data collection methods.
· May 17 was the WSSB Track Meet and students from Outreach attended from around the state. Many of our teachers were in attendance as well. A few of us even made it to prom that evening, which was a blast. The kids looked phenomenal.
· The Summer Institute team has been meeting about every other month to design this year’s program. We already have 35 educators signed up, and we still have two months until the event.
· We continue to serve close to 300 kids in districts around the state. We have a position open for the 2018-19 school year in Snohomish County, and are interviewing this month.
Our end of year meeting will be June 15 at WSSB. I always enjoy getting the team together for a summer send-off and to relive the highlights of our year.
Students On Campus: 33 Residential and 12 Day Students
Comprehensive programs: 45
Distance Learning: 6
Local District Day: 3
Short Course: 13 (April – June)
It has been an incredible year of fun and learning for both students and staff this year. The school program continues to analyze ways to improve next school year so that services are always developing. The teaching staff and teaching assistants have been incredibly caring and supportive to each other, which speaks to the caring and family-like environment we create for students. The programs at WSSB are ready for next step to ensure we are growing with the needs of each of our students in both academic and non-academic areas. In this process of growth, staff have been focusing on a range of professional development that includes trauma informed practices and strategies for successfully supporting student’s social-emotional learning. In addition to the needs of students, the on-campus program is embracing our agency’s commitment to equity with both staff and students.
From Nepal to WSSB and Back
A principal and teacher of the visually impaired (TVI) from Nepal visited WSSB. Their visit is one leg of an international “Knowledge Exchange” between professionals from Nepal and WSSB. At the end of June, WSSB teachers, Stephanie Face and Pam Parker, and WSSB principal, Sean McCormick, will travel to Nepal for two weeks to learn about the programs and services abroad. The presence of Keshari Thapa Rana, principal of the Gyanchakshu School for the Visually Impaired and Sita Gyawali made an incredible impact on the students and the school by providing the opportunity to share stories, embrace cross-cultural education, and the staff were able to form connections with other professionals across the globe.
Short Course at WSSB
Throughout this school year, WSSB has offered 13 Short Courses for students to attend for a one week intensive session while remaining enrolled in their local school programs. This school year, Jeff Bowler has instructed 37 students in the short course program. Of the 37, ten students attended two courses this year (the maximum permitted per school year). 14 students were new to WSSB and were able to access us as one of our service delivery options. Low enrollment in three courses led to their cancellation. The Short Course program is still young and continues to gain more interest from TVIs and students across the region.
Recruitment for next school year
The education program teaching and staff specialist will be fully staffed with the new additions at the start of next school year. Shane Dittmar will be coming from North Carolina fresh out of a music education program to lead the WSSB music department. Shane is proficient in music braille and has experience with both blind and visually impaired (BVI) students, as well as recently completing student teaching in a public high school music position. Emily Owens will be joining the math department as a math TVI. In addition to joining the math team, Emily has had experience teaching science after receiving her Masters in Teaching Biology. Emily will begin her enrollment in the Portland State University (PSU) TVI/Orientation & Mobility (O&M) program this summer. WSSB will also be looking at meeting the social-emotional learning needs of students with the hire of Billie Jo Thomas. Billie Jo is certified as a school counselor and as a school psychologist with over 11 years of experience working with a diverse range of students.
· WSSB is proud to be celebrating four students in the graduation ceremony this year. Each of the students has a plan for their next step in their transition to their post-WSSB life. One of the students will participate in both the Washington School for the Deaf (WSD) and WSSB’s ceremony.
· During February, a Para educator/braillist from Seattle came to WSSB for a 3-day immersive training visit. During their three days, they were exposed to as many of the programs and approaches of WSSB teachers and paraprofessionals. This pilot project was initiated by Michelle Farrell of the Board and Principal McCormick. The feedback from the braillist was that it provided an invaluable opportunity for a braillist to learn more about how to support the independence of their student, access to a variety of techniques, and technology, including low-tech. This braillist brought those skills back and was able to utilize her skills to enhance her role of supporting the needs of the student she serves.
· WSSB supported a majority of their teaching staff and support staff in attending the PNWAER regional conference in Vancouver, WA. This conference featured four presenters from WSSB’s Education department.
· The end of the year events have been all a success, including the Lion’s track meet with over one hundred participants, WSSB hosted Powerlifting meet, overnight cross-country ski trip to Mt. Hood, student lock-in overnight event, and the annual career fair.
· WSSB volunteer, Mollie Hands celebrates her 45th anniversary as a volunteer at the school. She was honored at the annual spring concert and volunteer recognition.
· TVI Amanda Rodda-Tyler will be attending a training this summer to learn how to teach an Advanced Placement (AP) course in Computer Science Principles. This will be WSSB’s first AP course offering.
· All nine ESD’s have been presented to on the topic of WSSB’s On-Campus programs. Sean McCormick visited each of the monthly special education administrator meetings.
Residential Department Update
As the year winds down, staff and students have been busy in the residential department at WSSB. Students have participated in nine different Independent Living Skills (ILS) assessments this year, which included the following: room cleaning, laundry routine, hygiene routine, preparing a sack lunch, sweeping and mopping, kitchen cleaning, preparing a grilled cheese sandwich and canned soup meal, preparing a smoothie, and dinner prep and etiquette. Staff used the data collected from these assessments to focus on specific skills students needed to continue to learn to become more independent. In addition, 11 Residential Life Counselors (RLC’s) and the Residential Program Manager have completed 42 hours of training in the residential Child and Youth Care professional curriculum and are eligible, after completion of the final test, to become certified as Residential Child and Youth Care Professionals. At the time of this report, two staff have already taken the test and have become certified. Students also enjoyed our annual picnic at Lake Vancouver in collaboration with NWABA, which included paddle boarding/kayaking, a picnic at the lake, and social etiquette at a BBQ. Residential staff have also been busy re-decorating the cottages for next year, we look forward to board members visiting next fall to see the changes made in our dorms so students feel more at home. One of the RLC’s attended an equity conference in Seattle, as well as two RLC’s attended the PNWAER conference held in Vancouver. We also had one RLC who participated in the braille class offered by WSSB who plans to take the Washington state UEB exam during the summer or fall.
Learning Independence for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT)
LIFTT participants are continuing with their vocational pursuits; college coursework, work readiness training, job search, volunteer work, as well as honing their skills of independent living. We interviewed applicants for the Resident Advisor (RA) position and for the first time since beginning the RA model for extra support, we felt having two RA’s will be an advantage to the program next year as we have many applicants, some with additional disabilities and feel the need for more on-site support. Two of our current students will return in the fall as RA’s. We currently have seven applicants for the 2018-2019 program year, as well as several others who have expressed interest.
We have one staff member who will be leaving us in June to pursue employment and further education in a different field. She has been a wonderful asset to our program and we will miss her. Recruitment for her replacement will begin soon.
Scott has most likely mentioned this in his report that the legislature funded us to do a feasibility study to determine the cost to replace or remodel the Ahlsten building on campus to house the LIFTT program. This would take the program out of the third floor of the Old Main building, freeing up space for other campus needs, as well as providing a program space with better layout and design to meet the needs of the LIFTT program. I am hoping to be able to give you continued updates about progress as this project unfolds.
Youth Service Specialist (YSS)
Marcie Ebarb, our YSS provided the synopsis of her activities this quarter providing Pre-Employment Transition Services to students on campus and statewide.
· Continued coordination of Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) funded contract with Partners in Careers (PIC) to provide workplace readiness skills training.
· Continued participation in the Center for Change in Transition Services (CCTS) Transition Learning Community leadership team. The goals of the team are focused on enhanced transition support for workplace readiness.
· Participation in the quarterly WorkForce South West Washington Emerging Workforce Committee and monthly WorkSource Business Services Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Partner Team meetings.
· School day pre-employment transition services: YSS utilizes the web-based Career Cruising platform to facilitate individual work readiness skills training sessions with WSSB GOALS class students.
· YSS gave a presentation for Leadership Clark County (LLC) on February 10. LLC is an organization whose members work in government, the private sector and non-profit agencies, and go through a year-long schedule of classes with a focus on making improvements for communities in Clark County who have experienced inequities.
· With the sponsorship of Clark County Developmental Disability Services, YSS participated in the Washington Initiative for Supported Employment (WISE)/Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) invite only Washington State Transition Forum on March 28.
· Participated in a panel presentation at the PNWAER conference. On March 23 YSS staff, DSB South Region Area Manager and two local DDA staff members made a presentation demonstrating the service differences and collaboration between Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and DDA agencies.
· Assisted with the planning and implementation of WSSB’s March 12-13 Career Fair. Developed job shadow opportunities and connected with community agencies to provide workplace readiness skills training for the event.
· Ongoing coordination of the YES 1 and Skills summer programs’ advertisement/application process. Assisting in the planning and implementation of both programs.
· Ongoing facilitation of discussion with DDA vendors about possible contract opportunities for workplace readiness training services to be provided for students with additional disabilities.
Supervising Nurse, Robin Williams provides this synopsis of Health Center activities this quarter.
Nurses prepared battery operated “babies” for the high school health program unit on parenting. Ten WSSB students will participate and be responsible for a battery operated baby simulator for 48 hours. Students will carry a baby in a baby carrier or stroller, and must bring the diaper bag with them everywhere they go, along with their cane, backpack, braille note, etc. The babies cry without warning every 15 minutes-2 hours. Students must place a key in the back of the baby and hold it in place in order to quiet the baby. Nurses are able to read data collected from the battery pack unit, which indicates how many times the baby’s head was not supported, rough handling, neglectful events and how many total minutes the baby was allowed to cry. This project is usually quite popular among the students and is effective in simulating the challenges of caring for an infant.
Nurses are preparing for summer school participants; we plan on 24 kids attending summer school and around 20 attending the YES 1 program.
Pacific University and WSSB are collaborating to bring the “Smile Care Everywhere” dental mobile to our school June 7. The dental mobile will be staffed with licensed dental hygienists and a dentist that will provide free dental exams and cleaning for eight students per visit.
WSSB continues to provide services for students with complicated medical conditions, requiring health center nurses to provide additional staff training.
Nurses will perform CPR/AED/First Aid training during the summer break. Approximately 80% of WSSB staff are certified to perform CPR and first aid.
1. 2017-19 Operating Budget
We closed the month of April with just over 1% variance. Most departments are staying within their allotted budget and we are projecting to end the year on target.
In Fund 19B, we ended April with a 10% variance. Balance ending April, 2018 was $2,320,756.
2. 2017-19 Capital Budget
With the delays in passing a capital budget, the state is backed up with projects. We will be requesting a re-appropriation of a portion of the funding depending on how much can be accomplished during the very limited window we have during the summer.
3. 2018 Supplemental - we received the following funding in the supplemental:
Digital Braille Literacy Access $ 78,000 $ 22,000
Reasonable Accommodation $ 49,000 $ 50,000
Student Transportation $105,000 $136,000
Technical Correction $ 82,000
4. Safety Net
We submitted an application for $62,046. The Oversight Committee will meet June 13-14 to make funding decisions. We should know shortly after June 14.
5. Fiscal Year-End and FY2019
We are at fiscal year-end, which is a very busy time for the business office. In addition, the Procurement Specialist resigned which makes it slightly more challenging but staff are doing a great job of rising to the challenge. A replacement was hired May 1. Designated staff are working on 2018-2019 allotments.
6. 2019-21 Budget
Budget instructions will be published in early to mid-June. Decision packages for 2019-21 budget cycle will be due early September. This year might bring a challenge in that the state is using a new budget system for 2019-21. We will be deciding what we will submit soon.
· Amanda Pizzo – Procurement and Supply Officer
· Zach Ausmus – Custodian
· Agatha Asiimwe – On-call Teacher’s Aide
· Daniel Ostrowski – On-call Custodian
· Robert Herbert On-call Custodian
· TVI – Math
· TVI Snohomish County - Outreach
· Fiscal Tech/Senior Secretary
· On-call Teacher’s Assistant
· On-call Custodian
· On-call Nurse
· Substitute Teacher
· HR Managers Meeting – Facilitated by Franklin Plaistowe and Marcos Rodriguez
· Labor Relations Roundtable – Facilitated by Office of Financial Management (OFM)
· Safe Schools Task Force
· HR Manager’s Meeting – ESD 112
Ogden Resource Center (ORC)
New transcribers and apprentices at the women’s prison are busy learning braille. The veteran transcribers are mentoring the new hires and everyone is pitching in to keep production going strong.
Lean Warehouse Project
Kandi Lukowski led a Lean project with the ORC focusing on the Warehouse and moving materials in a more efficient manner. The warehouse is looking great and Ian Goodrich, Warehouse Operator, is keeping up with the flow of materials coming in and out of the warehouse. Some of the Lean improvements include:
· Consumables: Bulky kits with lots of pieces are now consumable. These include the Light Box kits, Sensory Learning Kits and other popular kits. Light boxes are frequently damaged in shipping so they are now also consumable to eliminate damage while shipping.
· Direct Shipping: APH consumable materials now ship directly from APH to the school rather than coming to the ORC to be re-shipped. This saves approximately a week of time sending these items through the post office via Free Matter.
· New Mailing Labels: New labels for material returns have information on the type of material being mailed including large print, braille, braillers and equipment.
· Inventory: We gave away our excess of kit parts in conjunction with PNWAER at the Heathman in Vancouver. People were happy to have kit pieces to take back to their students. We are also going through our collection to make sure that all books are current and still in demand. We are donating some of our EBAE novels to other organizations.
· Brailler Repair: With the extra space in the warehouse, we now have a brailler repair/cleaning station in the warehouse and Ian is learning to clean and repair the braillers in-house.
· Re-organization: Desks and furniture have been moved around to create a better flow. We now have a separate station for shipping so that Ian is not constantly interrupted when materials need to be shipped.
This spring as the school year comes to an end and materials are returned, we will more fully see the benefits of Kandi’s Lean expertise and the benefits to both our customers and staff.
Buildings and Grounds
We have added a plaque in the Stenehjem Fitness Center giving additional information about former superintendent, Dr. Stenehjem and his photo.
The emergency alert system that we were looking at was unable to provide enough information to allow us to purchase it under sole source rules. We are therefore going to need to put together a bid package for this to move forward.
The Lions Club donated a bronze statue of a lion, which was mounted on a pedestal in the parking lot island to the east of Irwin. The students added a time capsule before we set the statue. We are in the process of having a plaque made describing the statue and the gift from the Lions.
We have released the cottage-roofing project for bid with bid opening set for May 30. Once a contractor is selected, we can set a schedule that coincides with the various on campus events taking place this summer.
The sewer line replacement project is currently going through engineering design. We still are aiming for a summer completion of this work.
Seal coating of two parking lots had to be delayed because of weather but is now ready to begin. A tentative start and end date is the first weekend in June. The remaining parking lot rejuvenation work is getting ready for bid with the work taking place over summer break.
A preliminary walkthrough and discussion about the feasibility of remodeling or replacing Ahlsten for a LIFTT center took place. We have furnished the architect with all of the blueprints for the building and they are hopeful that they can have an evaluation by September so we can apply for capital project funding.
At the end of the school year, all four cottages are being emptied and new furniture is being brought in.
Direct Services Provided to Children and Families:
· We currently are providing direct services to 66 children and families across the state.
· Referrals continue to come in an average of 1 or 2 a week.
· We have three full time teachers (including DeEtte), one part time hourly teacher, and one Outreach teacher who serves one family in her school district.
· Our Parent Infant Playgroup (PIP) ended this month and were well attended this year with eight families. The families and staff enjoyed our new location in the library of Irwin. We had PIP two Fridays a month from September to May with plans for monthly get-togethers this summer, including another trip to the zoo.
· The Three Prong Approach to Vision and Hearing Screening training was conducted in Spokane (Spokane Health District), Bremerton (OESD), and Tacoma (Pierce county Early Intervention (EI) providers). A total of 146 early intervention providers were trained in April and May on how to identify a visual impairment and where to go to access services.
· PNWAER presentation on Babies Count: Identification and Responsive Service Delivery for Babies with BVI. This presentation is scheduled to be repeated at the International AER conference in Reno this summer. This presentation is also DeEtte’s doctoral dissertation that she completed for the requirements of her PhD and graduation was in May.
· Infants and Early Childhood Conference (IECC) presentation on Appropriate Assessment of Young Children with BVI, DHH, and Deaf Blind. This workshop was an all-day preconference presentation with WSDS partners.
· DeEtte is on the Personnel and Training Committee of the State Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) and has been active in assisting in creating a system to create and support early intervention providers across the state. This includes a sub-committee to write professional competencies for EI providers. The competencies are now final and were introduced to the state via the Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) website.
I am trying something new with my board reports this year. 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 BVI throughout Washington State.
March 21: Tour for 12 people from the Quarry Senior Living Center
March 21: Conference call “BEST of the WEST” COSB
March 22-24: PNWAER Conference – Vancouver, WA
March 26: Tour with Angela Johnstone, Spokane Public Schools
March 28: Computer Science Principles Access for ALL Conference Call
March 28: Meeting with Michelle Gonzalez, Governor’s Office
March 29: Meeting with James Kice and Brad Richardson from the Clark County Historical Society & Museum
The PNWAER Conference was held in Vancouver this year. PNWAER is the Washington state chapter of the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). AER serves as the professional organization for educators and rehabilitation professionals in the field of blindness and visual impairment. We strongly encouraged and supported staff from both outreach and on-campus programs to attend the conference for reasons of professional development, sharing expertise, and building relationships with our peers outside of WSSB. The conference was well attended by BVI Professionals from both Oregon and Washington. WSSB had a strong presence at the conference in terms of both attendance and presenters. Our dedicated WSSB staff provided presentations on a variety of topics such as Computer Programming, Braille, Technology, WSSB Short Courses, Leadership, Birth to Three, and Learning Disabilities. I felt like a proud parent as WSSB contributed to the great success of this wonderful professional development opportunity through contributions of leadership and expertise. I also attended a presentation from WSSB Board of Trustees member, Greg Szabo, about opportunities at the Lighthouse for the Blind. PNWAER was a wonderful opportunity to learn and build relationships with others in the field.
April 4: CyberStorm WebEx Training
April 5-7: AFB Leadership Conference
April 9: Washington Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL) Librarian proposal
April 10: Meeting with WSSB staff regarding DSB Memo of Understanding (MOU)
April 10-12: CyberStorm Exercise
April 16-27: Nepali Visitors at WSSB for Knowledge Exchange
April 16: Campus tour and information session with Office of Financial Management (OFM) Budget Analysts (Justin Rogers, Cynthia Hollimon, Jennifer Masterson and Kate Davis)
April 16: Attend Governor Inslee’s speech to school superintendent’s and college leaders
April 22-24: Meetings with Senators, Representatives, and Federal Budget staff in Washington DC regarding Quota Funding with the APH
April 26: Preproduction meeting – WSSB video
In April, I had the opportunity to attend and present at the AFB’s annual Leadership Conference. The AFBLC features presentations from current leaders and researchers in the field. I attended many wonderful sessions about current research, trends, and hot-topics. I had the opportunity to be part of a panel presentation hosted by the Council of Schools and Services for the Blind (COSB). The presentation was about “High-Stakes Testing for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired”. Our session presentation was well attended and the audience actively engaged in the discussion component of the presentation.
Additionally, WSSB hosted visitors from Nepal for two weeks in April. Our visitors included Keshari Thapa Rana and Sita Gyawali, principal and teacher from the Gyanchaksu School for the Blind in Nepal. Keshari and Sita stayed at the WSSB campus for two weeks to observe, participate, and learn about our programs and services for students who are BVI. Sita and Keshari also met with a variety of WSSB stakeholders to further examine our partnerships and collaboration to meet the needs of our students. In late June, WSSB Director of On-Campus Programs, Sean McCormick, along with WSSB teachers, Stephanie Face and Pam Parker, will travel to Nepal to study the Nepal system of service delivery for students who are BVI. We are very excited to participate in this “Knowledge Exchange” program with our new friends from Nepal. We also appreciate the Pacific Foundation for Blind Children (PFBC) and The Rose International Fund for Children for the financial support needed to participate in this international exchange opportunity.
Finally, I spent a short time (one full day) in Washington DC at the request of the APH. While in DC, I had the opportunity to meet with staff from the office of Congresswoman Jaime Herrera-Beutler, Senator Maria Cantwell, Senator Patty Murray, and staff from the Federal Office of Management and Budget. The purpose of these meetings was to share the impact of access to APH products and services in Washington State as it relates to the current level of funding and what could be if funding for APH is increased. I presented the Washington state perspective in each of the meetings, while APH President and former WSSB teacher/administrator, Craig Meador, and a couple members of his staff provided the national perspective.
May 3: Board of Trustees – Conference Call
May 9: Tour and info session with Dawn, Director of Development, NWABA
May 9: Computer Science Principles Access for All conference call
May 9: Dinner with the students in Watson cottage
May 14: Feasibility Study – Ahlstein Building (LIFTT Cottage)
May 15: Listening Sessions (three) with staff
May 15: Meet with Shane Dittmar, Music Teacher applicant
May 17: WSSB/Lions Track Meet, Lion Statue Dedication
May 17: WSSB Prom
May 17: Provide campus tour with Special Education Directors from Spokane area
May 18: ESD 112 Annual WASA Awards Ceremony
May 21: Meeting with Department leads regarding strategic priorities for the upcoming legislative session
May 21: Paddle Boarding and Kayaking with NWABA and residential department (staff and students)
May 22: Attend Vancouver Dawn Lions Club meeting – provide update and receive donation for PFBC
May 22: Provide tour to 19 Ophthalmologists from China and two local Optometrists
May 22: WSSB Video – superintendent interview
May 24: Spring Music Performance/Volunteer Recognition
May 29: Meeting – Dr. Closson and PFBC regarding mobile low vision clinic
May 30: All Agency Governor’s Results Review
May 31: Annual awards and end of the year picnic
So much happens at WSSB during the month of May, it is difficult to pick a highlight. We are in the midst of creating a short promotional film about the richness of our on-campus programs at WSSB. In preparation for my small part in the video, I reflected on what makes WSSB truly special. The students and staff are the obvious answer. In May, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a significant amount of time connecting with our students and staff. One of our students, who set a goal of making a full five-course meal as part of the Wednesday evening dinner expectations, invited me to her celebration of accomplishment. The students and staff of Watson cottage, along with another invited guest and I, enjoyed a five-course meal prepared by one of our students that included salad, bread, soup, pasta, and dessert. The track meet provided another wonderful opportunity for me to connect with students, staff, and the community. Students from around the state, along with many of their parents, teachers, school staff, friends and volunteers descended onto the WSSB campus for a beautiful day of competition. At the track meet, WSSB also announced and dedicated the bronze lion statue that now welcomes visitors to the Irwin/Stenehjem parking lot. The lion statue was donated by the Fort Vancouver Lions to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Lions Clubs, over 40 years of partnership with WSSB, and as an example of our school mascot. WSSB Facilities crew built the base from recycled bricks to match other art installations on campus. WSSB students added a time capsule to be stored in the base of the statue. Later that same evening, I helped supervise our WSSB Prom. On another day, I had the opportunity to join our students and staff at Vancouver Lake to help with paddle boarding and kayaking as part of our after-school program options. This provided yet another excellent opportunity to work with students and staff.
Finally, I offered the final round of “listening sessions” for the 2017-18 school year. “Listening Sessions” provide staff with an opportunity to discuss and highlight celebrations of success, current and future concerns, and ask questions without their immediate supervisor present. While the tone of these meetings changes throughout the year, staff have expressed that they appreciate the opportunity to connect and share their concerns, thoughts, and feelings about individual programs, the overall direction of the school/agency, or share something on their mind. I plan to continue to offer quarterly listening sessions again during the 2018-19 school year.
Department managers and administration team 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
As was mentioned during my last board report, we have been evaluating our current emergency management procedures and infrastructure. We have also spent considerable time learning from other school districts and Clark College. This summer, we expect to outline our needs and seek a vendor who can fulfill our needs in the most accessible way currently available. At this point, we believe that we have the capital funds in place to fund this update for the school. If it is determined that our current level of funding is inadequate for this much-needed update to our emergency management system, we will seek financial assistance through the legislative process.
During the last legislative session, WSSB was provided funding to complete a “Feasibility Study” on the Ahlsten Building as a potential location for an expanded transition program. On May 14, we began discussions with our contacts from the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services and an architectural firm to begin moving forward with the study. Our ultimate goal is to create a purpose-built transition center that would house our LIFTT Program. This would allow us to use the third floor of Old Main for housing of family members when they visit their children attending WSSB for transitions, meetings, events, etc. Soon, we will begin discussions with DSB as this may end up being a collaborative project to meet the needs of young adults and transition-age youth who are BVI.
Finally, the PFBC has been working with WSSB to facilitate a traveling low vision clinic for children who are visually impaired. Dr. Closson provides low vision exams at no charge to the family or district, and any prescribed low-tech low vision devices are provided to the child for them to keep and use at their discretion, again, at no charge to the family or district. This program is modeled after a similar program in Oregon that has existed for over twenty years. Dr. Closson spent two days in Spokane and one day in Tumwater to provide the service. The low vision exams are a wonderful way to bring together the student, parent or caregiver, and the teacher of the visually impaired in an effort to better understand the student’s use of vision and how to accommodate for low vision when needed.