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Minutes Iowa Commission for the Blind

Primary Tasks

    Secondary Tasks

      Iowa Commission for the Blind
      September 19, 2017

      1) Call to order and determination of quorum. A meeting of the Iowa
      Commission for the Blind was called to order at 10:01 a.m., by
      Sandi Ryan, with the following members present: Sandi Ryan,
      chair, Joe Van Lent, member, and Ryan Brems, member, which
      was a quorum. Others in attendance: Emily Wharton, Shawn
      Mayo, Peggy Elliott, Enrique Mejia, Jerad Nylin, Lora Van Lent, Al
      Bickell, Keri Osterhaus, Sarah Willeford, Kim Barber, Helen
      Stevens, Andrew Pulford, Tiffany Bickell, Carrie Chapman, Lori
      Trujillo-Roush, Carla Brems, Rebecca Barloon, Ann Gillaspie, via
      teleconference, Chuck Gillaspie, via teleconference, Michael
      Barber, via teleconference, and Cindy Ray, via teleconference.

      2) Action Item. Approval of Minutes from June 24, 2017 Meeting. Mr.
      Van Lent moved approval of the minutes as submitted. Mr. Brems
      seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

      3) Action Item. Approval of Budget Request. Mr. Pulford stated that
      the request is the same amount as the previous one since the
      Governor’s Office has asked that all agencies submit a status quo
      budget request. Mr. Van Lent moved approval of the budget
      request. Mr. Brems seconded and the motion passed

      4) Public Comment. Ms. Ryan asked for public comment. There
      were no comments.

      5) Director’s Report. Ms. Wharton introduced Ms. Barloon as the
      new attorney general representative for the Department. Ms.
      Wharton asked for feedback from the Commissioners on the
      board packet due to the time constraints on getting a hard copy
      out. She asked if it would be plausible to have the board packet
      items due one week ahead of the meeting, and when they are
      received, they will be emailed out and posted to the website.
      People who are receiving the braille and print versions would still
      receive them. Mr. Van Lent asked if he would be able to print it
      from the website and Ms. Wharton said that anyone would be
      able to print the packets from the website. Mr. Brems asked if it
      would be possible to get the agenda out a week ahead of the
      meetings, and Ms. Wharton said that agendas would be available
      a week ahead of the meeting along with the rest of the packet.
      Ms. Mayo asked when the braille and large print copies would be
      sent out. Ms. Wharton said that they would be mailed as soon as
      they are prepared. Ms. Elliott said that people could use the
      electronic versions, and that she hadn’t seen anyone use the
      statistics during a meeting, and if they need to, they can ask the
      question Ms. Ryan said that she is fine with it. Ms. Wharton asked
      if the staff travel summary, public relations and new hire reports
      could be eliminated from the packets. The Commissioners
      agreed. Ms. Wharton said that she spoke with the counselors
      about getting more clients into the center. She said that she told
      them that no matter how many vocational rehabilitation teachers
      the Department has, teaching out in the field will not get clients
      the same results as coming to the center. She said that the
      counselors will have to work harder on getting their clients into the
      training program at the Department. Ms. Wharton said that the
      counselors will need to be evaluated on getting clients to tour the
      center. Ms. Wharton said that Marcia Bauer will be retiring from
      the Department and that Mark Edge will be covering her position
      until a person can be hired for that area. Ms. Wharton moved on
      to discuss the VR closure numbers. She said that the numbers
      were not great and that she and Ms. Osterhaus have been
      working on this and one issue that has come up is all the time that
      the counselors spend at meetings with other agencies and partner
      organizations. She said that the Department is a smaller agency
      by far than the other agencies, and they have the staff to go to all
      of these meetings. She said that there will be a cap on the
      number of meetings that counselors will be able to attend. She
      said that another reason the closure numbers were bad was that
      a lot of cases needed to be closed due to no forward movement
      on plans. There was discussion on this item. Ms. Wharton talked
      about upcoming out-of- state travel, stating that Mr. Pulford and
      Mr. Bickell will be participating in the National Rehabilitation
      Leadership Institute seminars, and Ms. Stevens will be presenting
      at the Getting in Touch with Literacy conference. There are a few
      staff who will be attending the Dare to Be Remarkable
      conference, as they will all be presenting there. Ms. Wharton
      asked Mr. Bickell to give brief updates on both the BEP and
      orientation center. Mr. Bickell said that in BEP, they are working
      on getting a set-aside program set up and he will have this started
      by the beginning of next year, depending on when the proposal
      gets approved by RSA. The percentage of set-aside they are
      looking at is 7%. Mr. Bickell moved onto the orientation center. He
      said that the senior orientation program will be in the center next
      week. He stated that he plans on having eight students in the
      center by the end of October. He also said that he would like
      clients to do a month trial so that they can see what the program
      will do for them. Ms. Ryan suggested that when clients come in
      for a tour it should be later in the day so that the clients can attend
      business class. There was further discussion on getting clients in
      the center. Ms. Wharton asked Ms. Osterhaus to discuss the VR
      program. She discussed the numbers of closures and the different
      types of closures. Ms. Osterhaus reiterated that the counselors
      need to be in the field, rather than at meetings, working with
      clients. She said that at the last staff meeting, there was
      discussion on prioritizing counselors’ time. She talked about the
      first Opening Doors to Employment event that happened at the
      Department yesterday. She said that October is Disabilities
      Employment Awareness month and they are working on events
      throughout the month. She said that there are 10 staff and that is
      almost fully staffed in VR. There was discussion on the
      counselors and how they spend their time. Ms. Osterhaus said
      that the counselors are starting to have their clients meet them
      out in the public areas rather that the counselors having to try to
      travel to several clients’ houses in one or two days. Ms. Wharton
      had Ms. Willeford talk about the library. Ms. Willeford discussed
      the stacks areas of the library. She said that they are working on
      getting the registrations for the Read 1,000 Books Before
      Kindergarten, as well as getting books for kids that are in K-12.
      She welcomed Denise Bean to the library. Ms. Wharton had Ms.
      Barber discuss the IL program. Ms. Barber talked about the
      funding and grants for IL, and the proposed cut that President
      Trump has written into his budget. Ms. Barber said that she is
      appreciative of Ms. Bauer’s service to blind Iowans and wished
      her well in retirement. She discussed the different activities that
      the participants in the senior orientation would be doing. Ms. Ryan
      thanked Ms. Barber for including activities with the consumer
      groups during the senior orientation. Ms. Wharton moved on to
      Ms. Stevens report. Ms. Stevens talked about the different
      activities that happened during LEAP this year and her goals for
      the program moving forward. She talked about the Pre-ETS
      loaner pool and what pieces of equipment are available for the
      school-aged and college-aged students to borrow. Ms. Stevens
      said that Wesley Majerus completed his OC training and is now
      working with clients in the field. Ms. Stevens said that the new
      phone system the Department was supposed to be getting is on
      hold since the system is not accessible. Mr. Brems told Ms.
      Stevens that he has been getting letters from the Braille School
      supporting Nebraska’s transition events. Ms. Stevens said that
      she is working with the Braille School but that there is still a
      difference in philosophy. Ms. Wharton expanded on this saying
      that she the school that the Department couldn’t support their
      Four Plus program because that program supports sheltered
      shops. There was further talk on this subject. Ms. Wharton said
      that one of the VR positions will be going live today for one of Ms.
      Stevens’ positions. She talked about some other positions that
      are in the process of being approved by the Department of
      Administrative Services and Department of Management.

      6) CFO’s Report. Mr. Pulford said that the Department took a
      conservative fiscal approach to spending in FY17 which has put it
      in a positive spot for FY18. The FY 18 budget is $2,187,342 as
      was noted at the June commission meeting. Again, this is
      approximately $110,000 lower than where the Department started
      FY17 and $86,495 lower than the ending budget. Mr. Pulford said
      that with he and Ms. Wharton having spent more times in their
      positions, they are working to align the agency to maximize the
      impact of the dollars that are appropriated and can match with
      federal grants. This includes continually working to meet the Pre-
      ETS spending requirement. In the accounting department, he and
      one of his staff have worked to get clearance and training on
      making Social Security Ticket to Work Cost Reimbursement
      claims. This will add to the Department’s discretionary spending
      pool for the current and future fiscal years. He has been told that
      the Department cannot use this as matching funds for federal
      grants, so it will be able to cover the ‘other’ expenses, whatever
      those are, such as building renovations or equipment purchases.
      The balance in the Gifts & Bequests Fund is $2,588,049.38.
      Expenditures for FY17 were $45,578.65.

      7) Time and Place of Next Meeting. Mr. Brems moved that the next
      meeting be held on December 2, 2017 at 10:00 am at the
      Department. Mr. Van Lent seconded and the motion passed

      8) Action Item. Gifts and Bequests Application. Ms. Ryan gave the
      background on this application and noted that this is an
      organization application, so it can be discussed in public. Ms.
      Ryan asked Ms. Bickell to read the letter from NFB of Iowa to the
      audience. Ms. Wharton gave further background on this matter,
      stating that the first time this grant was looked at there was
      incomplete information given. When a separate meeting was
      scheduled for this matter, noted on the agenda as a closed
      session, the Governor’s office contacted Ms. Wharton to ask why
      there was a closed session. It was determined that there did not
      need to be a closed session for this application. Ms. Wharton
      went on to discuss the funding from the Department, and talked
      about her conversation with Scott White from the National
      Federation of the Blind. There was further discussion on this
      matter. Mr. Brems moved approval of the $31,182 request. Mr.
      Van Lent seconded the motion and Ms. Ryan called for a roll call
      vote. Ms. Ryan, yes; Mr. Van Lent, yes; and Mr. Brems, yes, a
      unanimous vote. There was further discussion on the future
      funding of Newsline.

      9) Adjournment. Mr. Van Lent moved adjournment. Mr. Brems
      seconded and the motion passed unanimously. The meeting
      concluded at 1:07 pm.

      Respectfully Submitted,

      Sandi Ryan
      Commission for the Blind

      Tiffany Bickell
      Secretary to the Commission/Administrative Assistant
      Department for the Blind